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A simulation of a theory based catastrophe of global bankers collapsing the financial system was conducted fairly recently. There was a striking similarity between this event and the infamous “Event 201” that was held in late 2019.
Last month, high-ranking international banking representatives and organizations convened in Israel for a worldwide “war game” simulation portraying the global financial system’s downfall.
The tabletop experiment was similar to “Event 201,” a pandemic simulation drill held in October 2019, just before COVID-19 made its global debut.
Commencing December 9, 2021, the “Collective Strength” project was hosted at the Israeli Finance Ministry in Jerusalem for ten days. Reservations over the Omicron variant led to its relocation from the Dubai World Expo to Jerusalem.
Treasury officials from the United States, Austria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates were among the ten countries represented amongst the Israel led contingent.
Supranational institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) were also represented.
The exercise, dubbed a “war game,” aimed to replicate the reaction to a variety of theoretical large-scale cyberattacks on the world financial framework, such as the leak of delicate financial data on the “Dark Web,” hacks designed to target the global foreign exchange system, and ensuing bank runs and market disarray largely driven by “fake news.”
The core emphasis of “Collective Strength” does seem to be the enhancement of worldwide collaboration in cybersecurity and the financial sector, rather than the simulation of such intrusions, as the proposal’s title suggests.
Participants in the exercise debated multilateral approaches to a possible global financial catastrophe, according to Reuters. Debt settlement grace periods, SWAP/REPO agreements, synchronized bank vacations, and coordinated delinking from major currencies were among the policy remedies proposed.
Because of it’s timing, the concept of simulated delinking from key currencies sparked several questions – around the same day that participants congregated to inaugurate “Collective Strength,” rumors surfaced that the Biden government was contemplating eliminating Russia from the global electronic-payment-messaging system recognized as SWIFT, abbreviation of Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.
This step might be a component of a broader set of economic penalties imposed by the US if Russia attacks Ukraine.
The roster of participants in the “Collective Strength” simulations, which incorporates the IMF and World Bank, as well as the World Economic Forum (WEF) indirectly, could stir yet more concerns.
In October 2019, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, held a simulated “Event 201.”
The WEF also backed the establishment of financial devices, including such credit and debit cards, which could very well track “personal carbon allowances” on a personal level.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, released an executive summary in November 2020 that detailed the nature of circumstance that was simulated as part of “Collective Strength.”
Tim Maurer and Arthur Nelson, the report’s authors, depicted a globe witnessing ” an unprecedented digital transformation… accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Cybersecurity is more important than ever” in this kind of a society, the authors contended.
The research described global financial system protection as a “organizational challenge,” noting that there is no single international entity in control of safeguarding the global financial system or its digital infrastructure.
The executive summary even described a “disconnect between the finance, the national security and the diplomatic communities.”
Maurer and Nelson came up with the following solutions:
- The requirement for “greater clarity” in terms of roles and obligations
- Strengthening international collaboration
- Enhancing “internationalization” and minimizing fragmentation across “siloed” financial firms
- Creating a framework that can be applied to unspecified “other” industries
But which “other” industries are we talking about?
The authors categorized these series of suggestions under “Digital Transformation: Safeguard Financial Inclusion” in their report.
The following is an example of a proposal:
“The G20 should highlight that cybersecurity must be designed into technologies used to advance financial inclusion from the start rather than included as an afterthought.”
Digital “health passports” and associated “digital wallets” appear to be examples of technology that is “used to advance financial inclusion from the start.”
It also appears to be in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 16.9, that urges for all people, which would include infants, to acquire a digitized legal identification by 2030.
Goal 16.9 also reminds me of the European Union’s assertion that its vaccine passport, the so-called “Green Pass,” which would be utilised in a number of European countries to keep the unvaccinated and anyone with natural resistance out of all types of public and private settings, safeguards people’s privacy.
The GAVI Vaccine Alliance asked for “innovations that leverage new technologies to modernize the process of identifying and registering the children who are most in need of life-saving vaccines,” which connects two separate challenges — global financial system security and public health.
The employment of such technology, however, would not be limited to documenting childhood immunizations. GAVI characterized prospective applications of these “new technologies” as “access to other services,” which included “financial services” in a wide sense.
While concerns of “financial inclusion” are kept aside, the writers of the Carnegie Endowment executive summary echoed their recommendations in a spring 2021 paper that appeared on the IMF’s website.
Whereas the Carnegie report’s authors and collaborators in the “Collective Strength” effort stress the importance of adequately protecting the financial system and its digital assets, it’s uncertain how a sustained shift to a purely digital, cloud-based environment can really be regarded “secure.”
Take, for example, Micha Weis, the Israeli finance ministry’s financial cyber manager, who said the following about “Collective Strength”: “[a]ttackers are 10 steps ahead of the defender.”
Similar statements are unsettling to people who already are apprehensive of “FinTech” and the growing overlap amongst “Big Tech” and “Big Finance.”
Likewise, for many, yet another “simulation” of a massive and deadly worldwide calamity may evoke memories of “Event 201” as well as what happened afterward — notoriously labelled as a “live exercise” by then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on March 20, 2020.