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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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

RussellHiRes.jpgFrom 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.

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In Hawaii, Another Try for a Public Bank

HI-USA-113399_comp_3.jpgAfter a couple of years off the public banking map, Hawaii is back on--and this time the emphasis is on "creating a state-owned bank to assist homeowners who are having trouble making their mortgage payments." So reports Jason Ubay of Pacific Business News, who adds:

House Bill 326 . . . proposes that several state departments led by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Financial Institutions study the state's laws and report back to the Legislature before the start of the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions. The report would determine the amount of state money needed to be transferred to the state-owned bank, and include legislation to establish a short-term purchase program for residential properties with mortgage problems.

 

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American Banker, Nation’s Preeminent Banking Journal, Strikes a Note on Public Banking

American Banker, founded in 1836, is America’s oldest and most important banking journal. Over half a million people read its five day-a-week news site every month, and over 35,000 people subscribe to the print version. Independent of any portion of the banking industry, American Banker has won accolades for its coverage of legislation, banking scandals, financial crises, and significant issues in banking and finance.

So when Kristin Broughton authored an article on public banks, we were immediately interested. Would the nation's leading banking journal give fair treatment to our alternative to Wall Street banks?

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