In the name of the Board of the National Bank of Romania I am honored to welcome the Annual Conference of the European Association for Banking and Financial History to Romania. I will also mention that our bank is celebrating 10 years since joining your association.
Let me mention a few aspects of our institution, your host today. The National Bank of Romania was established in April 1880, our institution being the 16th among the central banks in the world. It is true that in different papers about the history of the central banks the ranking differs, depending on whether 3 central banks of states that were not independent at that time are counted in or not. This is the reason why the National Bank of Romania sometimes holds rank 13. As far as I am concerned I prefer place 16, as I am one of those who dislike the number 13. I like to mention, when I have the occasion, like today, that the National Bank of Romania set up before other notable counterpart s, namely the Bank of Japan (1890), or the Federal Reserve System (1913). We cannot really call our bank the Old Lady like the Bank of England, but rather the Old Aunt.
Like other venerable institutions, the National Bank of Romania has seen several of the most significant events during its more than one century existence: World War I and II, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the dire communist period with its Stalinist model of the monobank. After 1990 our bank underwent a period of recovery and reform and today it holds almost all of the functions of a central bank could have: monetary and exchange rates policies, licensing, regulating and supervising of credit institutions, payment systems, including oversight, issuance of national currency, managing international reserves of the country, monetary, banking and balance of payments statistics.
Part of the history of our institution is also to be seen in its 3 buildings that are the Bucharest headquarters of the National Bank of Romania, and that you might have already visited: The Old Palace, built between 1882 and 1890. The French influence at the time is a highlight of this building, and of many other buildings set up in that period, when Bucharest was called “Petit Paris/Little Paris”. The so called New Building was designed between the two World Wars and carries the influence of the time, like the Genevan Palace of the Nations. The third building hosts the Bank Supervisory Division and has a Venetian influence in terms of architecture. The diversity of our three buildings proves once more our European legacy and multiculturalism.
The headquarters of the National Bank of Romania are located in the old city, which used to be the commercial and financial center of Bucharest. Bank buildings were recently refurbished to host today’s restaurants and pubs. A closer look at the architecture of these buildings reveals their former functions. There were around 140 banks in this area in the late 1930s. I am sure that in such an environment rich of history and culture our seminar today will be a success.
I thank you again for participating in our seminar and I am proud that Romania hosts this event. I equally thank all participants who have prepared expositions today.
* Textul poate fi diferit faţă de prezentarea din timpul evenimentului / As prepared for delivery