Big Banking Interests Push Back, Part Two: Wall Street Interests Deceive the People about Public Banks

At the beginning of March, responding to the impressive wave of state-level public banking movements in the news, Mark Calabria of the Cato Institute wrote a template that became two different published OpEds. The Denver Post titled Calabria’s piece “Colorado would be wise to reject state-owned banking,” while American Banker titled the piece “Promises of Public Banks Don't Match Reality.” The wording differs in the two pieces, but the message points are the same. In the course of delivering those points, Mr. Calabria distorts other scholars’ published research, gets some historical anecdotes wrong, and plays on tired old fears of “government control” while glossing over the rampant, widespread corruption of Wall Street banking. Read more

Keeping the Water Running: Public Banking as an Alternative to Privatization

Last week, Occupy published my essay on the disastrous effects--and fiscal causes--of water privatization. The cause of water shut-offs in Detroit and elsewhere, water contamination, and other hurdles to universal access to H2O, I argued, were not found in some "natural" level of resource scarcity. Rather, water crises result "from local governments going broke – in debt to big banks, regulated by unfunded mandates from an aloof and cronyist federal government, unable to finance their own control over water, or raise the capital to design and implement their own sustainable water systems. Space only allowed me to make a cursory mention of public banking as a means to avoid the privatization debacle. The argument is simple, but important to lay out explicitly: Governments turn to privatization when they perceive their budgets as irredeemable. Read more

Big Banking Interests Push Back, Part One: Wall Street Doesn’t Want Community Bankers to Know the Truth about Public Banking

After seven years of economic instability caused by irresponsible financial practices, the big banks haven’t learned their lesson, and neither have many policymakers. Legislation enacted at the end of 2014 allows Wall Street banks to hold risky assets (such as interest rate swaps and other derivatives) in the banking unit backstopped by FDIC deposit insurance. This places the U.S. taxpayer on the hook for bailouts when these banks again go under due to derivatives failures. Changes adopted at the end of the year by the Federal Reserve threaten to increase interest rates for municipalities, raising the costs of municipal projects, school funding, roads, bridges, and other public service and infrastructure needs. Big banks continue to wreck our economy. Read more

In Pennsylvania, Something's Always Going On with Public Banking

With new news of public banking advances in different states and cities coming almost weekly, it's easy to lose sight of ongoing progress in Pennsylvania, where the very first Public Banking Institute conference took place in 2012, and where public banking advocacy is constantly happening throughout the state. But according to Mike Krauss, Pennsylvania, and specifically Philadelphia, continues to be a nexus for the public banking movement. Read more

More Reasons Maine Needs a Public Bank

For many years now, the state of Maine has been fertile ground for economic innovation. Public banking has been part of that story, and 2015 has featured passionate speeches, intelligent advocacy, and hard-hitting economic analysis. Randall Parr has been instrumental in keeping the movement alive and, importantly, in communicating goings-on in Maine with the rest of the nation. Read more

Exclusive: Public Banking Bill Moves Forward in Illinois State Assembly

An hour ago, Amara Enyia, organizer and former Mayoral candidate in Chicago, and a longtime supporter of public banking, who had testified before the Financial Institutions Committee today on the Community Bank of Illinois Act, reported the following to me from Springfield, Illinois: Read more

Illinois Public Banking Bill on House Agenda

Our sources in Chicago and Springfield tell us that Illinois State Representative Mary Flowers has re-introduced the Community Bank of Illinois Act to the state's General Assembly. Read more

New Hampshire House Moves Forward on Public Banking Bill

The Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee of the New Hampshire State House has voted 12-4 to continue consideration of the public banking bill filed there two weeks ago. Read more

From Arizona, A Spectacular Public Banking Top 10 List

Our friends at the Arizona Public Bank Coalition/Arizonans for a New Economy are still on fire--in a good way. They recently prepared a list of the top ten benefits of a public bank. Every local movement ought to compile a similar list. Below, I re-publish and add additional commentary to those reasons.  Read more

Maine Representative: "Dare Greatly," Remember Workers Who've Lost Their Livelihoods, and Build a Public Bank

From the quest by citizens of Maine for a state bank, a hero has emerged: Dianne Russell, a native of Western Maine who is serving her fourth term in the House. Actually, it's inaccurate to say Rep. Russell has "emerged" from the public bank campaign. Although young, Russell has already earned a reputation as an outspoken advocate for workers and their families, willing to think outside the box to shape policy discussions about economic security. In 2011, The Nation magazine named Russell "Most Valuable State Representative" in its Progressive Honor Roll. But in the context of public banking, Rep. Russell's bold statements framing a state bank as a tool to help working people might well make her a hero to the movement for financial autonomy and economic justice. On February 3, speaking before the state House Committee on Insurance and Financial Services, Rep. Russell gave one of the most compelling speeches I've ever heard, and in a relative few words, encapsulated the best reasons to keep fighting for public banking. Read more

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