Public Banking building coalitions on both coasts

#PublicBankNYC and California Public Banking Alliance

Winsome Pendergrass, New York Communities for Change, at the June 5 rally in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Members of the California Public Banking Alliance.

 

The launch of the #PublicBankNYC campaign earlier this month and the ongoing campaigns in California have generated several excellent articles.

Aaron Fernando writes in The Progressive, “The rally on June 5 [in New York] was reminiscent of the Occupy Movement. … But the new movement extends beyond protest to present a practical solution to the problem caused by big banks that continue to fail large segments of society. The rally on Wall Street called for establishing a public bank for New York City, as part of a broader movement to establish public banks in cities and states across the United States. ...

“‘It just made sense that we should be able to control what happens with our public money in our city, to not fund these things that so many of us are concerned about.’ said Hyung Nam, a member of the city’s Socially Responsible Investment Committee.”

Alejandra Molina writes in Next City, “Community organizer Carlos Marroquin, 57, of Hollywood, is a housing advocate who knows of homeless people who are employed but do not make enough to put a roof over their heads. He envisions a city-owned bank that would work directly with community banks and credit unions, ‘providing them the money they need to be able to give reasonable and affordable mortgage rates to people.’

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California Public Banking Alliance forms to create a specialized Public Bank charter CA cities could use

California Public Banking Alliance

 

Six local Public Bank grassroots groups came together in San Francisco Saturday June 9 for the first statewide meeting of the newly formed California Public Bank Alliance to advocate for municipal and regional Public Banks. A key goal of the Alliance is to get a bill creating a specific Public Bank charter through the CA state legislature by September 2019. This charter would enable cities or regions to use a specific Public Bank license to create Public Banks. It would also set out some basic values for public control of public money.

Advocates from Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, peninsula/south bay, Oakland and San Francisco participated in the meeting. Groups from Eureka and Santa Barbara are part of the Alliance but were not represented at this initial meeting.

To connect and find out more go to californiapublicbankingalliance.org.


Farewell and thank you to PBI Board Member Arizona State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley

Pamela Powers Hannley

Arizona State Representative Pamela Powers Hannley

 

Public Banking Institute Board Member Pamela Powers Hannley has announced she is stepping down from our Board to focus on her work as an Arizona State Legislator and Public Bank legislation sponsor in her state. We thank Pam for her insights and contributions to our organization and wish her expanded success in Arizona.


25 percent of Swiss voters support sovereign money referendum indicating growing interest in radical overhaul

Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, Switzerland. Photo courtesy Reuters.

 

The Sovereign Money initiative that Switzerland ultimately rejected would have barred commercial banks from electronically creating money when they make loans, and made the Swiss National Bank the only body authorized to create money in the country. While the initiative failed, a full quarter of Swiss voters supported it, which shows a growing interest in a radical overhaul of the monetary system.

Positive Money’s Fran Boait writes in the Independent, the initiative would have “opened up the way for a transformation of the money and banking system the world over. ...

“Unknown to most of the population, 90 per cent of Switzerland’s money is created by private banks ‘out of thin air’ when they lend.

“Switzerland’s Vollgeld referendum raises a crucial question that has been ignored since the last crisis - should private or public interests be in control of creating almost all the money a country uses?

Reuters explains:

Contrary to common belief, most money in the world is not produced by central banks but is instead created electronically by commercial lenders when they lend beyond the deposits they hold for savers. This arrangement, underpinned by the belief that most debts will be repaid, has been a cornerstone of the global capitalist system …”

“‘The discussion is only just getting started,' said campaign spokesman Raffael Wuethrich. 'Our goal is that money should be in the service of the people and not the other way around and we will continue to work on it.’”

 

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Coalition of grassroots groups launches “paradigm shift” campaign for #PublicBankNYC

Public Banks NYC campaign launch

Public Banks NYC campaign launch. Photos courtesy New Economy Project

 

Activists from more than two dozen grassroots organizations including New Economy Project and Public Bank NYC took to the streets of Wall Street on Tuesday to launch a campaign for a NYC Public Bank. Carrying signs reading “Public Bank for Public Good,” and chanting, "Wells, Chase, B of A, public bank's a better way!” advocates called for a paradigm shift:

“Every year, New York City deposits billions of dollars of public money in big banks like Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank. On top of that, Wall Street extracts many millions of dollars in fees and interest from New York City. This means that our public money is supporting Wall Street’s destructive activities: foreclosing on our homes, fueling the climate crisis, redlining communities of color, backing private prisons and immigrant detention centers, and financing war -- to name a few.

“Enough! Clearly we need a paradigm shift, and we call that shift Public Bank NYC.”

Julia Conley reports in Common Dreams:

‘New York deserves a public bank that will invest in community needs, and be accountable to New York City residents—one that will prioritize housing...and not prey on low-income New Yorkers,’ said Scott Hutchins, a member of the grassroots social justice group Picture the Homeless. …

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California Senate passes bill to create banks for pot businesses

counting cannabis cash

Counting cannabis cash. Photo courtesy San Francisco Chronicle.

 

The sheer volume of cash that legalized pot is triggering is generating the kind of political will needed to create a Public Bank as the solution. We ask: Why not use the power of a Public Bank to help everyone?

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

"The state Senate passed a bill this week to create a state charter for banks to serve California cannabis businesses, which would allow licensed merchants to write checks to pay taxes, fees and vendors — rather than use large amounts of cash, as they currently do.

"SB930, by state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, now heads to the Assembly."

[Read the full article]


Washington DC held the first two of four public meetings about establishing a Public Bank

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Washington D.C. Photo by Sarah Ferrante Goodrich

 

Washington DC’s Department of Insurance Securities and Banking held the first and second of a series of public meetings May 30 and June 6 on a proposal to establish a Public Bank in the District. The slides created for the meeting closely quoted Public Banking Institute’s language in defining a Public Bank.

The slides presented are available online and audio of the meetings should be available shortly.

Future public meeting dates are June 27, and July 25.

[Find out more]


American Banker: Wells Fargo is not alone: OCC finds sales abuses at other banks, but report is being kept hidden

170928_PBI_friends-of-pb-of-oakland-plus-politicos_R2.jpg

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

 

Wells Fargo’s fraudulent practices are commonplace in the banking industry according to a new report. “Hundreds of problems” and “systemic issues” were discovered in a review of large and midsize banks’ sales practices, yet federal regulators currently have no plans to make the results public.

American Banker reports:

“The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency began a broad examination of more than 40 banks after it was revealed that employees at Wells Fargo had opened millions of fake accounts in an effort to meet aggressive sales goals.

“The review uncovered specific examples of other banks opening accounts without proof of customers’ consent, an OCC spokesman acknowledged Tuesday. It also spurred the issuance of warnings on five specific industrywide issues that banks needed to address, and more than 250 specific items regulators wanted fixed at individual banks, according to a consultant briefed on the OCC’s findings. …

Yet the results of the review have not been publicly disclosed, and OCC has no plans to release a report, according to Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the agency.

“Hubbard declined to comment on why the agency is not making the results public. …

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Who should get to use our money? Ellen Brown: Blackstone, BlackRock or a Public Bank for California’s money?

Stephen Schwartzman, CEO Blackstone Group

Stephen Schwartzman, CEO Blackstone Group. Photo coutesy TruthDig.

 

Should California give its pension money to an absentee slumlord? Or to the world’s largest, “extremely dangerous” shadow bank that charges 14 percent management fees, lost $500 million of CalPERS’ money in 2009, and is up to their neck in oil and private water interests? No? Ellen Brown explains in her latest article in TruthDig the obvious and urgent alternative: a California Public Bank:

“California’s pools of idle funds cannot be spent on infrastructure, but they could be deposited or invested in a publicly owned bank, where they could form the deposit base for infrastructure loans. California is now the fifth-largest economy in the world, trailing only Germany, Japan, China and the United States. Germany, China and other Asian countries are addressing their infrastructure challenges through public infrastructure banks that leverage pools of funds into loans for needed construction. ...

“Germany has an infrastructure bank called KfW which is larger than the World Bank, with assets of $600 billion in 2016. Along with the public Sparkassen banks, KfW has funded Germany’s green energy revolution. Renewables generated 41 percent of the country’s electricity in 2017, up from 6 percent in 2000, earning the country the title ‘the world’s first major green energy economy.’ Public banks provided over 72 percent of the financing for this transition.

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Maine’s gubernatorial candidate Diane Russell is pushing for a Public Bank

Diane Russell

Diane Russell

 

Diane Russell is running for governor in Maine and her number one platform issue is establishing a Public Bank.

Diane Russell spoke with Maine Public recently:

“The fact of the matter is no one else is talking about a state public bank, about getting our money out of Wall Street and putting it onto Main Street, so we can actually take our treasury and invest it better.”

[read more]


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