Bernard Lietaer, friend and guiding light to the public banking and community currency movements, passed away of colon cancer Feb 4. Lietaer’s close friend and colleague Gwendolyn Hallsmith from Vermonters for a New Economy, with whom he co-authored three books, wrote this recent tribute:
“Those of you who remember back to the days when Vermonters for a New Economy was called the Vermont Monetary Policy Advisory Group will remember Bernard Lietaer, arguably one of the fathers of our little organization. He came to Vermont several times, and spoke at more than one of our early meetings.
“He died this morning of colon cancer. A very sad day for me. He was a dear friend, a mentor, and we co-authored three books and workbooks together. One of them, Community Currency, was translated into 13 languages and used all over the world. Another one, Creating Wealth: Growing Local Economies with Local Currencies, was published in 2011 and gave me the impetus to start to think about how what I had learned writing the book could help us in Vermont.”
Alaska lawmakers and advocates continue their work on legislation introduced last year to create the Alaska State Bank. Advocate Charles Duncan writes an excellent opinion piece in Anchorage Daily News challenging the customary assumptions of political leaders to explain how a publicly-owned state bank would give the state the solution for current budget problems and the expected crises to come:
“State income taxes are not the solution to our budgetary problem for the same reasons that cutting the Permanent Fund dividend is a bad idea. Income taxes and PFD cuts suppress the volume of money circulating in Alaska’s economy, do not address the root of our economic problem and do not prepare us for the next financial crisis.”
Ameya Pawar, a strong advocate for creating a public bank for Chicago has been endorsed for city treasurer by one of Chicago's two major newspapers, further evidence that the public banking alternative is becoming widely recognized.
The Sun-Times editorial board writes:
“Pawar talks of creating a public bank to support affordable housing, offer low-interest student loans and possibly do business with the marijuana industry. ... Reasonable people might have questions about all these ideas, but they’re fresh and worth exploring.
“We certainly support his overarching goal, which is to give working-class and middle-class Chicagoans more opportunities to prosper while securing strong returns for the city’s investments.”
PBI Chair Ellen Brown talks with razor-sharp wit Lee Camp about how Germany’s national public development bank, KfW, and FDR's Reconstruction Finance Corporation funded massive infrastructure without taxing the people. They also discuss a universal basic income (UBI), Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), debt, and more.
The animated video we produced last year has been widely applauded and shared. However, the narration by a child’s voice turned out to be perhaps a step too far. We’ve made a new recording with a wonderful confidence-inspiring, conversational voice that we hope will encourage many more of you to share. Check it out and thank you for the feedback!
Connecticut legislators have moved forward with a flurry of legislation aimed at creating a public State Bank of Connecticut. Each co-chair of the banking committee has introduced separate legislation: Rep. Ezequiel Santiago’s version proposes a state-owned bank for community development. Sen. Alex Bergstein’s version proposes the bank be for transportation infrastructure funds and she’s introduced another bill to authorize a study on an expanded regional public bank to include New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
This significant advance follows a Public Banking Institute-led informational meeting that included several CT legislators.
Amid headline-grabbing scandals in the Windy City, public banking gets a high-profile article in Chicago Magazine, and a full exam by the watchdog group Better Government Association. Edward McClelland quips in Chicago: “Amara Enyia, who’s running for mayor, and Ameya Pawar, who’s running for city treasurer, want to make Chicago more like … North Dakota.
“One of America’s smallest, most conservative states may seem like a strange model for one of its biggest, most progressive cities. A hundred years ago, though, North Dakota was a pretty radical place. Its hard-pressed wheat farmers got tired of paying 12 percent interest to greedy bankers here in Chicago, so they voted to charter a state-run bank, which offered low-interest loans and sold foreclosed farms back to families who had lost them.”
The Chicago Mag profile describes the articulate, grounded ideas the two candidates are bringing forward. ...Read more
In her latest article in Truthdig, PBI Chair Ellen Brown delves further into how the US can fund a Green New Deal through a national public infrastructure and development bank. All we need to do is look to how Germany did it. Establishing such a bank should be a “no-brainer,” she writes:
“The real question is why we don’t already have one, as do China, Germany and other countries that are running circles around us in infrastructure development. … Germany has a public sector development bank called KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau or “Reconstruction Credit Institute”), which is even larger than the World Bank. Along with Germany’s nonprofit Sparkassen banks, KfW has largely funded the country’s green energy revolution.”
Banking on New Mexico advocates have returned the group’s focus to its original vision of a statewide public bank and have joined forces with Albuquerque’s Public Bank for Central New Mexico to form the Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity.
The mission of the new group is, “to spearhead a statewide educational campaign to help people understand that keeping New Mexico money in New Mexico can grow financial resources that are safe, support local economic and educational systems, invest in job opportunities and human development, and diversify our economy.”Read more
As Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes a seat on the House Financial Services Committee, her tweet saying she wants to get to work on public banking was heard round the world. “I’m looking forward to digging into the student loan crisis, examining for-profit prisons/ICE detention, and exploring the development of public & postal banking,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. The French press agency AFP immediately caught on, writing “‘Public banking’ are two words that send shivers down the spine of Wall Street.”
The French know this because Europe actually has public banks and and recognizes the efficiency of that model.
The House Financial Services Committee has long been a major source of campaign contributions from Wall Street for both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, so the response of the financial services industry and Party leadership to this development may be swift.
Meanwhile, the resulting media attention from AOC’s current limelight presents a great opportunity to substantially advance the public’s understanding of public banking and to gain the support of advocates, allied organizations, and elected officials.Read more