Public banks can turn austerity into prosperity
Year-end appeal from Ellen Brown, Chair of the Public Banking Institute
Pundits warn that 2019 could be the start of the next Great Recession and that environmental devastation looms on the horizon. But solutions ARE possible with adequate public funding, and this funding can be generated with a network of local and national public banks. It’s not too late to turn things around, but more people need to know how, and soon. Your financial support now will help fund our 2019 Campaign for Public Banks to create the BIG PUSH we need now to get public banks established. You can sign on to support and contribute here.Read more
Last week, as global leaders assembled for the United Nations-backed 4th Annual Climate Finance Day, Public Bank NYC — a broad coalition that includes the New Economy Project, NY Communities for Change, and NY Public Interest Research Group — rallied at City Hall and called on NYC to divest public money from banks that are major investors in the fossil fuel industry and to establish a municipal public bank to help fund the transition to a just, sustainable economy.
The coalition released a new analysis showing that the city’s banks are dramatically expanding investments in fossil fuel.
Jake Offenhartz reports the details in Gothamist:
“‘Just imagine if there was a institution that had baked into its mission statement the goal of helping grow worker cooperatives, of expanding access to financial services, and of increasing affordable housing,’ Morrison told Gothamist. ‘We want to divest that money from Wall Street and redirect it to critical community needs. The money is there, it's about generating will.’”
Last week, Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar, who’s also a candidate for city treasurer, proposed a public bank using city employee pension funds and city investments to help solve the student loan crisis and other social issues driving income inequality.
Fran Spielman at the Chicago Sun-Times reports:
“‘I make $108,000-a-year as an alderman — and I’m not complaining … But 80 percent of my take home goes to pay for student loans and child care,’ said Pawar, who has $200,000 in student loan debt that carries a 7 percent interest rate.
“Here’s how Pawar’s proposal would work: The treasurer’s office would either launch a public bank or work with private banks, private investment funds and city employee pension funds to invest in student loans. …”
The publication Last Real Indians writes that Seattle’s feasibility study does show a viable path forward toward a public bank.
“‘The exhaustive public bank feasibility study shows a way forward in the establishment of a financial institution that aligns itself with the core values of the City of Seattle,’ said Matt Remle, speaking on behalf of some members of the stakeholder group. … The next step is for the City to fund a business plan. The study lays out a step-by-step approach to successfully meet legal and regulatory requirements. …”
Press Democrat op-ed: A public bank would help Santa Rosa solve pressing problems of rebuilding post-fire
Santa Rosa’s housing bond Measure N was defeated in the recent election, leaving the City Council without the hoped-for resources to make up for the immense costs of 2017’s post-fire rebuilding. The Friends of Public Banking Santa Rosa is pressing forward with an op-ed in the Press Democrat proposing that now is the time for the city to create a public bank:
“Measure N’s demise has made it clear that bonded indebtedness — the standard option for avoiding program cuts or new taxes — isn’t going to bail us out. … A local public bank would save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in fees and interest payments that currently are gobbled up by the private megabanks that hold city accounts. Those monies, kept here at home, would go a long way toward surmounting our housing and infrastructure challenges.”
Just one month before entering its 100th anniversary year, Bank of North Dakota has released the book, “The Bank of North Dakota – From Surviving to Thriving.” The book is only the third ever written about the only state-owned bank in the country and chronicles the Bank’s first century, covering a history rich in drama, failure and ultimately success. It can be purchased here. (Hardcover only, no Kindle versions.)
The Bank of North Dakota has a unique and courageous story to tell. Founded in 1919, the Bank survived political attacks, legal challenges and election campaigns before it became the thriving success it is today.Read more
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — one of two insurgent progressive candidates to succeed in their races for Congress — submitted draft text for a select committee on a Green New Deal financed by a system of national and regional public banks and the Federal Reserve. The plan calls for a sweeping mobilization to make the US carbon neutral and draw down greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and oceans.
The inclusion of public banking is an important indicator that awareness of its value has reached the federal level, in good measure due to local advocates who have been pressing the case to Ocasio-Cortez and her team. The draft language proposes “using a combination of the Federal Reserve, a new public bank or system of regional and specialized public banks, public venture funds and ... other vehicles” for funding.
The idea of creating a special new climate panel was immediately met with strong opposition from powerful veteran lawmakers, but has since drawn support from 15 other Representatives and the attention of mainstream media. The proposed select committee for a Green New Deal would tackle much more than climate change. Noting that far-reaching change is needed, Naomi Klein writes in The Intercept:
“By giving the committee a mandate that connects the dots between energy, transportation, housing and construction, as well as health care, living wages, a jobs guarantee, and the urgent imperative to battle racial and gender injustice, the Green New Deal plan would be mapping precisely that kind of far-reaching change. This is not a piecemeal approach that trains a water gun on a blazing fire, but a comprehensive and holistic plan to actually put the fire out.”
Pie in the sky? Not if funded through the Federal Reserve and a network of public banks, which make this plan a realistic possibility.Read more
The California Public Banking Alliance is working toward a state bill that will remove legal barriers to starting municipal public banks in the state. To that end, Public Bank East Bay recently met with Rob Bonta who represents the East Bay’s 18th Assembly District. He has agreed to co-author or perhaps even author the bill.
The CPBA is reaching out to more legislators to gain additional authors and support for a bill to be introduced in 2019. More to come as this story develops.
Although LA's Measure B did not pass, the effort generated massive awareness and support in a few brief months. The California Public Banking Alliance is now using that momentum in their work toward statewide legislation that will enable cities and regions to establish public banks.
Public Bank LA, part of CPBA, claims victory despite the ballot measure’s defeat and writes about this wider strategy in a recent CPBA press release:
“Over 395,000 Angelenos voted in favor of a policy that they had likely never heard of before 2018. 43% in favor is a strong baseline measure of support that public banking advocates look forward to building upon through sustained outreach and education. ... Having this [state level] legal framework in place will give L.A. and other cities a solid template to work from in setting up our banks.”
In the episode “The Mouse That Roared,” It's Our Money with Ellen Brown connects with PBLA's Measure B champions Trinity Tran and Ben Hauck to find out how they did it, why they did it, what they were up against, and what's next.
In the 100th episode “Retrospectives,” the program assembles select conversations from the nearly 5 years of special guests including Michael Hudson, Paul Hellyer, Saquib Bhatti, Bill Black, and Bob Bows.Read more