The Oesterreichische Nationalbank or Austrian Central Bank is celebrating its 200 year history.
Its chief Dr Ewald Nowotny gives this interesting speech through the 200 year journey:
Milestone birthdays not only provide an occasion to gather family and friends. They also afford an opportunity to pause for a moment and reflect on one’s past as well as one’s plans and hopes for the future. The 200-year history of our institution has been eventful, to put it mildly. In its first 100 years, the Nationalbank was the central bank of a major power; in its second 100 years, that of a small open economy in the middle of Europe. The fate of the Nationalbank has always been closely entwined with the fate of Austria, for better and for worse.
Central banks never operate in isolation. The most important lesson to be drawn from our 200-year history is that the greatest threat to financial and monetary stability has been, and still is, war.
In fact, it was the twenty odd years of the Napoleonic wars which stood at the origin of the Nationalbank in 1816, as Austria strove to stabilize a currency which had undergone strong inflation and depreciation.
So the “privileged Austrian central bank” was founded as an independent institution with private shareholders. One of the first shareholders was Ludwig van Beethoven – and just for the record: this turned out to have been a very good investment for him.
:-) How good was it? Given state of central banks, one wouldn’t be surprised if Beethoven would call the investment as profitable but of bad taste…
Rest of the speech is the usual bit on World Wars, European integration and so on. Useful to read..