Jens Weidmann: Consistency as a mandate

Speech by Dr Jens Weidmann, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Bank for International Settlements, at the ceremony to commemorate "250 years of the Pfandbrief", Berlin, 28 November 2019.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
29 November 2019

1 Introduction

Dr Hagen, Ms Lambrecht, ladies and gentlemen,

Many thanks for inviting me. It gives me great pleasure to be with you today.

Last week, a new exhibition opened at the German Historical Museum here, dedicated to Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt. Wilhelm, the older of the two brothers, is supposed to have said: "Only those who know the past have a future." It is therefore worthwhile to take a look back at the past.

We have already learned much today about the genesis of the Pfandbrief. Just over two weeks after Frederick the Great issued the cabinet order which paved the way for the Pfandbrief, Wilhelm's brother Alexander, whose thirst for adventure and knowledge holds us in thrall even today, was born.

Alexander von Humboldt was much more than a polymath and scientist. He was also a daredevil for whom no risk was too great. On the long boat trip along the Orinoco and Rio Negro rivers, his boat capsized twice in waters infested with crocodiles and piranhas. In the Andes, too, Humboldt narrowly escaped death when, next to him, a wall of snow suddenly broke off and plunged into an abyss.

The other birthday celebrant has no such tales of derring-do to offer. The Pfandbrief is less about daredevil adventures and more about consistency and soundness. In this respect, it shares a similar fate to the Bundesbank: both are regarded as being rather dull.