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.”
“Unlike private commercial banks, KfW does not have to focus on maximizing short-term profits for its shareholders while turning a blind eye to external costs, including those imposed on the environment. The bank has been free to support the energy revolution by funding major investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Its fossil fuel investments are close to zero. One of the key features of KfW, as with other development banks, is that much of its lending is driven in a strategic direction determined by the national government. Its key role in the green energy revolution has been played within a public policy framework under Germany’s renewable energy legislation, including policy measures that have made investment in renewables commercially attractive.
“KfW is one of the world’s largest development banks, with assets totaling$566.5 billion as of December 2017. Ironically, the initial funding for its capitalization came from the United States, through the Marshall Plan in 1948. Why didn’t we fund a similar bank for ourselves? Simply because powerful Wall Street interests did not want the competition from a government-owned bank that could make below-market loans for infrastructure and development. Major U.S. investors today prefer funding infrastructure through public-private partnerships, in which private partners can reap the profits while losses are imposed on local governments.”
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