Video spotlight: Why is public banking important for social change?

Thomas Marois, Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at the University of London and recent guest on It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown, argues that until people regain control of money and credit, we will not be able to stop economic and ecological crises.

“There’s really no option. We can’t simply relegate the question of money and finance and credit … We can’t do anything until we have control of money. And to leave that to the private sector is a strategic mistake because then they control that agenda. They control credit. They control access to credit.”

[Watch the video]

Public banking advocates storm the Capitol in support of California’s #AB857

CPBA Lobby Day Sacramento

CPBA Lobby Day Sacramento. Front Row L-R: Sushil Jacob, Trinity Tran, Mel Liu, Judy Young, Larry Cohen, Irene Montantes, Nassim Nouri, Margie Lewis, Lou Rigali, Jake Tonkel, Lee Clark, Rick Girling, Nick Cortez, Madeline Kelly Merritt, Jeff Olsen, Dan Shook, Victor Casas, Luca Barton, Brenda Gutierrez, Ben Gordon, Miguel Molina, Erica Stanojevic, Shelly Browning, Susan Harman. Photo courtesy California Public Banking Alliance.


Monday April 8 was an action-packed day of citizens' lobbying for #AB857 in Sacramento. The California Public Banking Alliance gathered advocates from all corners of California to talk public banking with legislators.

As posted by the Alliance: “Wall Street banks have proven that their interests are not aligned with California's communities. It's time for a solution.” Advocate Madeline Kelly Merritt posted the group received an incredible response.

CPBA is urging advocates of public banking to sign this letter of support for #AB857 to be sent to CA Assembly and Senate legislators. 

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Ellen Brown OpEd: Why is the Fed paying so much interest to banks?

Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve. Photo courtesy Truthdig / creative commons.


While we receive virtually nothing on our deposit accounts in interest payments, which currently average a mere one-tenth of 1% per year, banks themselves are earning 2.4% on their deposits at the Federal Reserve. Why are the banks getting all this money while taking absolutely no risk?

As PBI Chair Ellen Brown explains in her latest article in Truthdig:

“That means we, the taxpayers, are paying $36 billion annually to private banks for the privilege of parking their excess reserves at one of the most secure banks in the world—parking them, rather than lending them out.”

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Marc Armstrong returns to PBI

Marc Armstrong

Marc Armstrong


The Public Banking Institute is pleased to announce that Marc Armstrong has returned to PBI as its newly named Development Director, after doing public banking outreach for five years in the divestment and cannabis legalization movements. Marc will be responsible for developing educational programs that identify ways for the public banking movement to address regenerative economics, financial inclusion, and wealth / income inequality, applying different kinds of public banking models and tools. Outreach will be made to organizations particularly that serve the public by prioritizing environmental and economic justice.

New It’s Our Money podcast: Global validation of the public option

The City of London

The City of London. Photo by Ed Robertson.


The latest episode of It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown looks at the global picture of public banking with London expert Thomas Marois. Co-host Walt McRee describes the episode:

Global Proof of the Public Option

The success of publicly-owned banks around the world should give broad encouragement to US state and local governments looking for some financing relief on their growing debt loads. Today’s guest, Thomas Marois, a Senior Lecturer at the University of London, is an expert on the impact that public banks have on economies and societies. His study of public banks shows both the efficiencies and stability these banks provide, as well as the important role democratic participation plays in bank operations. Our lone US public bank, the Bank of North Dakota, is celebrating its first 100 years and reflects the same values and benefits as its global siblings. But its birth years were anything but stable and make a colorful story of politics, personalities and pushback from the banking industry. We take a third visit on BND’s historical trail with author and historian Mike Jacobs.

[Listen to the podcast]

International News: UK Labour Party proposes a new public banking ecosystem

Last RBS bank closed

Last bank in Kilwinning, Scotland closed June 11th, 2018 despite local support for it to remain open. Photo by Ian Rainey.


Like the US economy, the UK economy is grappling with rapidly accelerating inequality and a collapse in investment in the main street economy as the financial sector dominates. In response, the Labour Party has issued a major new report proposing a “new public banking ecosystem” that includes postal banks.

Christine Berry, one of the report’s authors, describes the proposal in The Independent:

“The first pillar of this ecosystem is the proposed National Investment Bank, supported by a network of 12 Regional Development Banks. … We recommend that the bank’s activities should initially be focused around three “missions”: greening the economy, regional rebalancing and economic democracy. Together, these missions address the real crises of our time … : an economy skewed towards unaccountable elites that is failing to provide good lives for most of its citizens, and the real and present dangers posed by climate change.

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Video spotlight: Ellen Brown on the Thom Hartmann Program

PBI Chair Ellen Brown was featured on a recent episode of the Thom Hartmann Program:

Public banking is on the rise. Is this the solution to banks in the future? She says:

“We have one state bank — the Bank of North Dakota — and it has proved the model: it is safe, effective, it has saved a lot of money for the government, it has never been caught in corruption, and it operates at much lower cost than private banks. Globally there are close to 700 public banks with assets of $40 trillion, a conservative estimate. Local public banks are huge globally and they could fund a lot of things that people are in favor of that we haven’t managed to get our private banks to fund.

[Watch the video]

Los Angeles City Council throws its support behind state-level municipal public bank bill AB 857

Los Angeles

Los Angeles. Photo by Sterling Davis.


On Friday March 29, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz introduced a motion to support AB 857, state legislation facilitating the establishment of public banks by  cities and counties. The state bill was introduced March 19 by Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago and David Chiu and is sponsored by California Public Banking Alliance.

Strong support from a city with the influence of Los Angeles is a significant step in building momentum to pass the state bill. Public bank winds are building quickly in California, and it's said that "where California goes, the country follows." California's success could set the stage for public banking to sweep across the rest country.

Activists head to Sacramento April 8 for a public banking lobby day

CPBA lobby day


The California Public Banking Alliance is organizing a public banking lobby day in Sacramento on April 8 in support of AB 857. You can register for this action here.

Advocates from San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, San Diego and Los Angeles will talk to lawmakers and staff face-to-face about public banking. A bus from Los Angeles to Sacramento will be available.

Details from Public Bank LA: Join us for an action-packed day of citizens' lobbying as we make the rounds to legislative offices to make our voices heard. Yes to public banking and yes to AB 857!

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Public hearing on Oregon bill to create state-chartered bank for the cannabis industry

Oregon map

Image courtesy Tenth Amendment Center


On Monday Oregon state representatives held a public hearing for HB 3169, a bill filed late February by Rep. Pam Marsh and Rep. Ken Helm that would create a self-contained state chartered banking system for the cannabis industry in Oregon. The bill proposes a network of financial institutions separate from the federal banking system, which has locked out cannabis businesses as being illegal under federal law. A similar bill brought earlier in California died in the legislature, but Oregon is pressing on undaunted. A work session has been scheduled for April 8. 

According to a report by Mike Maharrey in the Tenth Amendment Center:

“HB3619 would authorize banking institutions and credit unions to organize as limited charter cannabis financial institutions. Cannabis businesses would be able to deposit funds in these institutions and write ‘special purpose checks.’ … These checks could only be deposited or cashed at the issuing cannabis limited charter bank or credit union, or another cannabis limited charter bank or credit union that agrees to accept the check. This would keep the entire process outside of the federal checking system known as the automatic clearing house (ACH).”


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