A Theory of Everything: A Historically Grounded Understanding of Soft Law – and the BIS

Promoting global monetary and financial stability. The Bank for International Settlements after Bretton Woods, 1973-2020

20 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2019

See all articles by Chris Brummer

Chris Brummer

Georgetown University Law Center; The Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL); Atlantic Council

Date Written: November 11, 2019

Abstract

This essay, written on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the creation of the Bank for International Settlements, argues that soft law’s origins in financial regulation lay in the particular institutional evolution of the BIS prior to the articulation of bank capital standards. As will be shown, institutional innovations tied with the Bank’s navigation of the politics and economic particularities of World War I reparations would enable the informality and expert-driven systems that would one day characterise today’s modern ‘Basel Process’ of technocratic decision-making. Furthermore, soft law, far from being an entirely radical break with the economic diplomacy of the times, was in fact merely the next step in an evolution of the Bank that in its deployment would not only enhance the credibility of non-binding understandings and accords in international economic diplomacy, but also help to solidify and elevate the very stature of the BIS. It is indeed no coincidence that soft law would be deployed as a governance mechanism at the BIS in particular as the international regulatory community turned to the challenge of prudential supervision – or that the BIS would conceive of soft law specifically to further urgent financial-market reforms in the post-Bretton Woods era.

Keywords: Soft Law; Bank for International Settlements; International Monetary Fund

Suggested Citation

Brummer, Christopher J., A Theory of Everything: A Historically Grounded Understanding of Soft Law – and the BIS (November 11, 2019). Promoting global monetary and financial stability. The Bank for International Settlements after Bretton Woods, 1973-2020 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3485122

Christopher J. Brummer (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.georgetown.edu/faculty/brummer-chris.cfm

The Institute of International Economic Law (IIEL) ( email )

Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

HOME PAGE: http://iielaw.org/member/chris-brummer-2/

Atlantic Council ( email )

1101 15th Street, NW
11th Floor
DC 20005
United States

HOME PAGE: http://chrisbrummer.com

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