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Central bankers meet at BIS
by Stella Dawson    The Boston Globe
Entered into the database on Saturday, June 25th, 2005 @ 11:02:44 MST


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BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) - Anti-globalization protestors dressed as monks fell to their knees in mock prayer to the gods of money as the world's most powerful central bankers gathered for their annual summit on Saturday.

"No meetings of the central bank chiefs! End the Basel treats for the financial elites!" the group said in a flyer.

Chanting dirges before fake gold ingots and tossing packets of fake money into the air, the group held a mock funeral for alleged victims of globalization outside the Bank for International Settlements.

The street theater marked the first time the BIS, central banker to the world where monetary officials from over 55 countries are holding their annual meetings this weekend to discuss risks to the world economy and financial system, has been the direct target of an anti-globalization protest, said BIS spokeswoman Anita Breland.

Playful protestors tossed pink confetti on police cordonning off the tower office of the BIS, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

"This is one of the first symbols of globalization," said Ernst Znsle, an organizer of the informal band of about 20 men and women, who described themselves as anarchists and veterans of marches against the World Trade Organization based in Geneva and World Economic Forum annual summit in Davos.

"Seventy-five years is enough!" their signs read.

"The BIS is very important because it connects to all the central bankers and they work with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, who are responsible for bad policies," said Znsle.

BIS Secretary General Peter Dittus talked informally with the group but they made no formal request to meet, Breland said.

"We just want to draw attention to this secretive bank in our midst," said one protestor.

Central bankers looked bemused. "What? A protest?" said Belgian central bank governor Guy Quaden as he headed to BIS.

Set up in 1930 to handle Germany's reparation payments after World War I, BIS has evolved into a forum for central bankers from major industrialized and emerging countries, providing them with research and support for their regular meetings on the world economy, banking and financial markets. It also assists central banks with financial transactions.