Bank of Spain

Bank of Spain
Banco de España (Spanish)

The current logo outlines being part of the Eurosystem.

The current logo outlines being part of the Eurosystem.
Headquarters Madrid
Coordinates 40°25′06″N 3°41′41″W / 40.41833°N 3.69472°W / 40.41833; -3.69472Coordinates: 40°25′06″N 3°41′41″W / 40.41833°N 3.69472°W / 40.41833; -3.69472
Established 1782; 234 years ago
Governor Luis María Linde
Central bank of Spain
Reserves 9,05 million troy ounces (September 2015)[1]
Preceded by Banco Nacional de San Carlos
Succeeded by European Central Bank (1999)1
1 The Bank of Spain still exists but many functions have been taken over by the ECB.
Bank of Spain (building)
Native name
Spanish: Edificio del Banco de España
Location Madrid, Spain
Official name: Edificio del Banco de España
Type Non-movable
Criteria Monument
Designated 1999
Reference no. RI-51-0010508

The Bank of Spain (Spanish: Banco de España), is the national central bank of Spain. Established in Madrid in 1782 by Charles III, today the bank is a member of the European System of Central Banks. It is also the national supervisor of the Spanish banking system. Its activity is regulated by the Law of Autonomy of the Banco de España.


Originally named the Banco Nacional de San Carlos, it was founded in 1782 by Charles III, to stabilize government finances through its state bonds (vales reales). Although it aided the state, the bank was initially owned privately with stockholders. It assets included those of "Spanish capitalists, French rentiers, and surprisingly, a large group of Indian communities treasuries of New Spain" (colonial Mexico).[2][3] Its first director was French banker François Cabarrus, known in Spain as Francisco Cabarrús.[4]

Following a series of wars between 1793 and 1814, the bank was owed more than 300 million reales by the state, placing it in severe difficulties.

Treasury minister Luis López Ballesteros created a fund of 40 million reales in 1829 against which the bank could issue its own notes within Madrid. It did so after renaming itself Banco Español de San Fernando.

In 1844 the competing Banco de Isabel II and Banco de Barcelona were established, followed in 1846 by the Banco de Cádiz. In 1847 following overexposure in the failing property market of Madrid, the Banco de Isabel II merged with Banco de San Fernando, retaining the latter's name.

Under the guidance of Ramón Santillán in the 1850s, the bank extended its operations to the cities of Alicante and Valencia and took its current name, Banco de España. Requiring financial support from the bank to back its civil and colonial wars, the government of Spain granted the Banco de España a monopoly on the issuance of Spanish bank notes in 1874. Construction of the bank's headquarters building began in the 1880s.

In 1936, 510 tonnes of gold reserves were transferred to the Soviet Union (in an event known as Moscow gold) corresponding to 72.6% of the total gold reserves of the Bank of Spain.

In 1946 after the Spanish Civil War, the government of General Franco placed the bank under tight control. It was formally nationalised in 1962. Following the restoration of democracy in the late 1970s, the bank began a series of transformations and modernisations which continue to today.

On Spain's entry into the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union in 1994, the Banco de España became a member of the European System of Central Banks.

Governing structures

The governing structures of the Bank is divided among four branches:

  1. The Governor.
  2. The Deputy Governor.
  3. The Governing Council.
  4. The Executive Commission.

The Governor of the Bank is formally appointed after the Presidente del Gobierno has designated him/her by the Spanish monarch. The Governor must be a Spanish citizen recognized for his or her competence in monetary or banking matters. When a new Governor is named, the Minister of Economy and Finance, in accord with a procedure established by the Congress of Deputies, informs the competent parliamentary commission. The current Governor is Luis Maria Linde.

The tasks of the Governor include: a) Direct the Bank and preside over the Governing Council and Executive Commission. b) Take primary responsibility for the Bank fulfilling its responsibilities and for doing so in a lawful manner. The Governor has ultimate responsibility authorizing bank contracts and other legal documents and for the Bank's representation before tribunals of justice. c) Represent the Bank in international institutional contexts. d) Function as a member of the Governing Council of the Bank and as a member of the General Council of the European System of Central Banks.

The Deputy Governor, designated by the national Government on the recommendation of the Governor of the Bank, should meet all of the official qualifications for the governorship. The Deputy Governor substitutes for the Governor in cases of vacancy, absence or illness, both as director of the Bank and as its representative. Further responsibilities of this office are a matter internal to the Bank, and are delegated by the Governor.

Six Counsellors of the Bank are designated by the national Government, on the proposal of the Minister of Economy and Finance, with the involvement of the Governor of the Bank. They must be Spanish citizens recognized for their competence in economics or law.

The Executive Commission consists of:

  1. The Governor, who presides.
  2. The Deputy Governor.
  3. Two Counsellors.

The directors general of the Bank attend the meetings of the Executive Commission, with voice but without vote. The Secretary of the Bank functions as secretary of the Executive Commission, but without voice or vote.

The two Counsellors who serve as members of the Executive Commission are designated by the Governing Council, after nomination by the Governor, from among their own members (other than ex officio members). The Governing Council consists of:

  1. The Governor.
  2. The Deputy Governor.
  3. Six Counsellors.
  4. The director general of the treasury and of financial policy.
  5. The vice president of the Comisión Nacional Nacional del Mercado de Valores ("Stock Market National Commission").

Council meetings are also attended by the directors general of the Bank and by a representative of bank personnel (elected by a means determined by the Bank's internal rules), both with voice, but without vote.

The Minister of Economy and Finance or the Secretario de Estado de Economía ("Secretary of State for the Economy" [?]) may also attend (with voice, but without vote) those meetings of the Governing Council which will deal with matters relevant to their portfolios. They may also submit a motion for consideration by the Council.

"The Secretary of the Bank functions as secretary of the Executive Commission, with voice, but without vote."


Banco de España's functions are:

  1. Defining and implementing the Eurosystem's monetary policy, with the principal aim of maintaining price stability across the euro area.
  2. Conducting currency exchange operations consistent with the provisions of Article 109 of the Treaty on European Union, and holding and managing the States' official currency reserves.
  3. Promoting the sound working of payment systems in the euro area.
  4. Issuing legal tender banknotes.
  5. The holding and management of currency and precious metal reserves not transferred to the European Central Bank.
  6. The promotion of the sound working and stability of the financial system and, without prejudice to the functions of the ECB, of national payment systems.
  7. The supervision of the solvency and compliance with specific rules of credit institutions, other entities and financial markets, for which it has been assigned supervisory responsibility, in accordance with the provisions in force.
  8. The placement in circulation of coins and the performance, on behalf of the State, of all such other functions entrusted to it in this connection.
  9. Preparation and publication of statistics relating to its functions, and assisting the ECB in the compilation of the necessary statistical information.
  10. Provision of treasury services and financial agent for government debt.
  11. Adviser to the government, preparing the appropriate reports and studies.

See also


  2. Carlos Marichal, "Banco de San Carlos (Spain)", Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, Barbara A. Tenenbaum, ed. New YOrk: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996. Vol. 1, p.278.
  3. Earl Hamilton, "Plans for a National Bank in Spain, 1701-1783" in Journal of Political Economy, 58, no. 3 (1949): 315-336.
  4. Pedro Tedd, El Banco de San Carlos (1782-1829) (1988)


External links

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