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Sealord of Braavos

The Iron Bank of Braavos

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In the books, the iron bank seems to be the largest financial establishment in the "known" world. Is the bank similar to mega-institutions of today? How powerful is the bank? And what kind of impact does the bank of every day life in not just Braavos but the world?

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There is no single financial institution in the real world that corresponds to the Iron Bank. The IMF and World Bank maybe, since they are lenders on a global scale to states.

This sounds rather like an essay question that you have been set as an assignment.

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The iron bank in the series I feel is pretty interesting (hence the name) not only does this institution lay within a free (used to be secret) city founded by ex- slaves of valayria. But also has lent so much money to the iron throne to deny them payment forces their hand. with in a free city like braavos it really sets them apart monetarily.from the rest of the world.

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While there could eventually be an institution on the scale of the Iron Bank on earth, it doesn't yet exist. The IMF and World Bank do have an international angle, but they're limited in their power to enforce anything (orchestrating coups is certainly not on their standard list).

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I think the Westerosi society has not yet reached the state in which capitalism first started spreading. In the real world this would have been in the late medieval times, starting in Italy's city states.

There's no doubt that the Free Cities are to resemble these Italian states, most notably Venice being the blueprint for Braavos. Channels, the lagoon, a glamorous social scene, power in the hands of merchant dynasties rather than feudal lords.

I think Braavos is simply the most developed place in the world in terms of a monetary system, which gives them huge power.

Cersei once thinks about setting up her own bank, which would be a very rational step indeed.

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The Iron Bank, backing you in some ways gives you a leg up or more monetary freedom for instance stannis gets a loan on the conditions he pays them for back payments already owed if he eventually sits the IT. Jon snow gets some loanss to help with his stores for the upcoming winter months at the wall. Also Stannis gets some sell swords. I could see this bank Also eventually backing another candidate for the IT who is currently against slavery, the same conditions their city was founded to escape from. Or any one else willing to honor past debts. This means it could get interesting.

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If Jon is dead, or even if he survives, I wonder if the IB would consider keeping that contract. He believed in Jon, not the NW.

Is the IB too big to fail? The difference between the IB and today's institutions is there is not the same level of...shall we put it nicely and say interdependence between them and other major institutions. I am betting that a huge number of royal families, and other clients would love to see the bank fail.

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It would be cool to see more of how the IB works. Like, maybe if the faceless men take a lot of contracts from them. Is there one CEO-Type person running it all, or is it a whole bunch of people? Do they have physical assets? if so, where are they kept? Maybe it's on the verge of collapse and they're just keeping it a secret so people don't just stop paying them? What about the other banks of the other free cities?

There are so many questions. I wonder if GRRM will ever awnser them.

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It seems to be very powerful and influential:

The Iron Bank of Braavos had a fearsome reputation when collecting debts.Each of the Nine Free Cities had its bank, and some had more than one, fighting over every coin like dogs over a bone, but the Iron Bank was richer and more powerful than all the rest combined. When princes defaulted on their debts to lesser banks, ruined bankers sold their wives and children into slavery and opened their own veins. When princes failed to repay the Iron Bank, new princes sprang up from nowhere and took their thrones

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The Iron Bank is probably similar to the World Bank today, and has its historical ties to the bank of Venice which preformed a similar role throughout Europe in the Renaissance Not surprising as the Free Cities in general are heavily based on Mediterranean city-states.

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It seems to be very powerful and influential:

Thanks for the Qoute w/ them backing Stannis and the North it tells you alot about where the story line is headed I believe the Iron Bank is done w/ the old regime and wants to aid in ushering in the new.

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While there could eventually be an institution on the scale of the Iron Bank on earth, it doesn't yet exist. The IMF and World Bank do have an international angle, but they're limited in their power to enforce anything (orchestrating coups is certainly not on their standard list).

I think you could link the Iron Bank to the Rottschild Family at the peak of their power. The controlls sush a amount of wealth that they finished half of the kingdoms in Europe.

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The Iron Bank must be hugely profitable if they can pay entire armies. I don't think any bank in real history had that much power. Although as Koekfabriek says the Rothschilds may have come close, IIRC their loans enabled the British to keep Wellington's army in Spain supplied during the Napoleonic wars.

There's even an episode of Sharpe series where a banker or bankers' agent character features during the adventures in the peninsular war.

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I'd like the see that line item in their budget:

gold

Travel expenses: 4,000

Regime change: 60,000 (see operation Cersei for more detail)

Building Maintenance: 13,000

and so on heh

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As far as we know, it's the only major banking service in both Westeros and western Essos. It also seems to command a lot of clout with merchants across Westeros, who are infuriated by Cersei's refusal to repay her loans- causing the Iron Bank to call in all debts (which would be, well, economic suicide). Nothing in our world compares to this 1:1, but it does sort of compare to a few select countries, like Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland, etc. where either one or a very small consortium of banks controlled a deal of influence over the country's affairs- and if it falls, or calls in its debts, it would send the entire country into economic chaos. But as the Iron Bank is trans-continental and encompasses half-a-dozen countries, it is very unique and not comparable to any one institution.

I think the World Bank or IMF are rather inappropriate comparisons, because neither are banks in the classical sense. The World Bank is the loan division of the International Monetary Fund, which is the ideological-political division of a two-part system designed to propagate the expansion of neo-liberal economics in developing countries. The Iron Bank seems to run more on the classical model of banking- whoever mentioned Venice here was in the rights, Rothschilds is another great comparison. They aren't interested in development or conditional funding, but rather are just really influencial banking magnates who may mint currency in Braavos (we aren't sure yet, not-canon) but most definitely have large holdings of Westerosi currency and barter-and-loan there.

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Beyond the very interesting Iron Bank, i was wondering how primitive (or modern) the fianances of the world of ASOIF are.

We know there is an active insurance market for shipping and trade. I can imagine the Iron Bank reselling Iron Throne debt to other investors.

Nevertheless the economy is based on precious metal coins. That alone prevent many modern finances and economy advances.

I imagine the Iron bank as the interests of the richest people in ASOIF. Playing a different game than the game of thrones, playing the profits game.

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I'd say it is about where England and western Europe was in the beginning of the Renaissance age. I would expect the merchants to use some sort of cheques among themselves but that's only with people or institutions they REALLY trust. There wouldn't be a lot of those around but between the free cities there ought to be some. Gold and silver are the currencies everyone trusts in.

Westeros is probably not very developed compared to the free cities - its politics are dominated by feudal landowners who don't have any understanding of finance so you wouldn't expect the merchants to have much of the institutions that would be common place in the republics of Essos. Westeros also lacks a government that you can trust - so economic development lags way behind that of, say, Braavos or Pentos where government seems to be fairly steady and responsible. Not something that the leading families treat like a war trophy.

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There is no single financial institution in the real world that corresponds to the Iron Bank. The IMF and World Bank maybe, since they are lenders on a global scale to states.

This sounds rather like an essay question that you have been set as an assignment.

haha love it. this guy might be trolling

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I'd say it is about where England and western Europe was in the beginning of the Renaissance age. I would expect the merchants to use some sort of cheques among themselves but that's only with people or institutions they REALLY trust. There wouldn't be a lot of those around but between the free cities there ought to be some. Gold and silver are the currencies everyone trusts in.

Westeros is probably not very developed compared to the free cities - its politics are dominated by feudal landowners who don't have any understanding of finance so you wouldn't expect the merchants to have much of the institutions that would be common place in the republics of Essos. Westeros also lacks a government that you can trust - so economic development lags way behind that of, say, Braavos or Pentos where government seems to be fairly steady and responsible. Not something that the leading families treat like a war trophy.

True. Gold and silver are very trustworthy. But being the only mean of exchange slows down greatly the economy.

Agreed in the way that Westeros is really behind the free cities in many aspects, chiefly in economics.

Whoever ends in the Iron throne will be highly indebted with the iron bank. All the current debt plus the new ones they will need to win it.

I am betting that someway, someday Casterly Rock will be sacked, the iron bank payed, and inflation will soar in the free cities... jajajajajaj

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It seems to be very powerful and influential:

Thanks for the quote this gives us a clear perspective on how the Iron bank operates. It also shows us how much Stannis with the banks support can gain.

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