On October 16th, PBI Chair Ellen Brown presented the keynote address at the Economics of Happiness Conference in Jeonju, South Korea. The two-day conference focused on three inter-related topics — public banks, local food, and urban regeneration through community restoration — and included a mix of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops.
Before the conference, the three American speakers (all women) met with Kim Seungsu, mayor of Jeonju and then had a press conference with about 30 reporters. Following the conference, Mayor Kim expressed his interest in establishing a public bank for Jeonju, a city of 700,000 (the size of North Dakota).
Discussions followed with Ellen and reportedly for hours into the night with the mayor’s staff on the possibilities. She observes that it’s easier to present the public bank concept to policymakers in Asia than in the U.S., since it’s not a new idea there. State-owned banks were largely responsible for funding the “Korean economic miracle” that raised South Korea from one of the poorest countries in the world in the 1960s to the first world economy it is today. According to Korean-born Cambridge economist Ha Joon Chang, “It was as if Haiti had become Switzerland.”
The ten page paper Ellen wrote for the conference is linked here.