Per Jacobsson Lecture - Central bank cooperation and US dollar liquidity: what can we learn from the past?

This event was held as part of a series of high-level webinars that will be livestreamed on our website.

Central bank cooperation and US dollar liquidity: what can we learn from the past?

Professor Catherine Schenk from University of Oxford delivers the 2020 Per Jacobsson Lecture, followed by a Q&A moderated by Guillermo Ortiz, former Governor of the Bank of Mexico.

30 October 2020

For the first time, the general public was invited to virtually attend the Per Jacobsson Lecture, a high-level academic event that is held at the BIS every two years to commemorate the BIS's first Economic Adviser, Per Jacobsson (1894-1963). The lecture is organised in partnership with the International Monetary Fund.

This year's Per Jacobsson Lecture was given by Professor Catherine Schenk on "Central bank cooperation and US dollar liquidity: what can we learn from the past?", followed by an academic panel discussion moderated by Guillermo Ortiz. The event was livestreamed on Friday 30 October.

Download the full-text of the lecture


As the global policy community moves into what is certain to be a prolonged period of economic, monetary and financial challenges, it is useful to reflect on previous experiments with international cooperation and coordination. While the 1930s has long been the inspiration for monetary policy innovation, there are other useful periods. The 1960s was a high period for central bank cooperation and coordination at a time when dollar liquidity became a global shared interest. A range of innovative solutions - including central bank swaps - were designed to stabilise the monetary and financial system. The conflict between the common interest in sustaining offshore dollar liquidity and the shifting domestic monetary policy stance of the United States ultimately ended this experiment. This episode emphasises the asymmetry of swaps as a means of central bank coordination for managing dollar liquidity. The 1960s also highlights several factors that influence the effectiveness of central bank cooperation: tensions between discretion and public scrutiny; the role of the Bank for International Settlements versus the International Monetary Fund; and the overwhelming importance of American engagement. Finally, the wider governance of the BIS since 2010 should allow it to play a more meaningful role once again in central bank coordination as we face the challenges of the next decade.

About the lecturer

Catherine Schenk is Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Oxford.

Professor Schenk was appointed as the Alexandre Lamfalussy Senior Research Fellow for 2018-19. She has held academic positions at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, Royal Holloway, University of London and the University of Glasgow. Professor Schenk is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Royal Historical Society and the Academy of Social Sciences. Outside academia, she has spent time as a visiting Research Fellow at the International Monetary Fund and at the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.

She has a distinguished record of publications, with several books and journal articles on the history of central banking, international monetary systems and global finance. Her research interests focus primarily on international economic relations, international monetary system and international banking and finance.

Academic Panel

Moderator: Guillermo Ortiz, Chairman of the Per Jacobsson Foundation and Partner and Board Member of BTG Pactual, Mexico

  • Adam Tooze, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History and Director of the European Institute at the Columbia University
  • Brad Setser, Steven A Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Linda Goldberg, Senior Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Ricardo Reis, AW Phillips Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics
  • Harold James, Professor of History and International Affairs and Claude and Lore Kelly Professor of European Studies at the Princeton University