On Wednesday, July 26, scores of Iraqis protested in front of the country’s central bank in the capital Baghdad following a massive fall in the value of the Iraqi dinar that is attributed to the recent US ban on 14 private banks. The market rate of the Iraqi dinar in exchange for one US dollar has climbed up to 1,570 from 1,470 in the last two days. The US Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve imposed the bans this month, accusing the banks of money laundering and transferring funds to Iran. The banks insist that they “have nothing to do with political tensions and are independent financial institutions” willing to face an audit to dispel any notion of wrongdoing or criminal activity.
Charley Cummings had a vision of creating a new, sustainable, local food system. In 2013 he and his wife started their own company in Concord, New Hampshire, delivering grass-fed beef and pasture-raised pork and chicken purchased from farmers in the region and delivered directly to consumers. Along the way, he’s found farmers, food processors, distributors and consumers who are excited to be part of it. But the banks haven’t been interested. “There were farmers and also other types of food businesses, processors and things that wanted to scale alongside us, but seem to have trouble accessing the right type of capital,” says Cummings, who previously worked in commercial composting and management consulting.
With all the obstacles to public banking, a small but significant step was taken in Philadelphia last March. The Philadelphia City Council, with one exception, voted unanimously to establish the Philadelphia Public Finance Authority. Its purpose is to provide credit lines for making loans to help small businesses unable to obtain regular loans from private financial institutions. Many of these enterprises are started by those without access to capital—usually working-class people and people of color. Although not a bank in the traditional sense (the Authority is unable to take deposits from private sources), it can utilize the city’s financial resources to facilitate loans that benefit the community and help stimulate the local economy.
Financial podcasts have been featuring ominous headlines lately along the lines of “Your Bank Can Legally Seize Your Money” and “Banks Can STEAL Your Money?! Here’s How!” The reference is to “bail-ins:” the provision under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act allowing Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs, basically the biggest banks) to bail in or expropriate their creditors’ money in the event of insolvency. The problem is that depositors are classed as “creditors.” So how big is the risk to your deposit account? Part I of this two part article will review the bail-in issue.
For over three centuries, banks have been consolidating their power by extracting interest from people, businesses, governments and the planet. This power helps to explain why politicians and governments bend to their will. Mainstream economists treat money as a neutral medium of exchange and never consider its origin and purpose. Is it meant to serve the people, or to serve the interests of the monied elite alone? Exploring that question helps explain why there’s always plenty of money for military research and development and none for protecting pollinators…and always enough to finance luxury condos instead of affordable dwellings.
The Bronx, New York City, New York - At the height of the pandemic, bank after bank began shuttering across the Bronx — between 2019 and 2021, seven banks closed 17 branches, with more than half happening in 2020, according to The Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development. The closures exacerbated an existing problem: prior to COVID-19, the Bronx had the fewest bank branches and the most check cashers and pawnshops per household in the state, possibly the country. Community organizers in the Bronx had spoken out about the closures since 2019. But they weren’t making headway with the banks, who claimed they lost money on those branches, or banking regulators, as both state and federal agencies claimed they lacked enforcement power to stop the closures. So those same organizers found a solution to address the problem themselves: a mobile banking branch, free to travel the 42-square-mile borough.
Congress has passed two major infrastructure bills in the last year, but imminent needs in infrastructure funding remain. The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law chiefly focused on conventional highway programs, and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) mainly centered on energy security and combating climate change. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), over $2 trillion in much-needed infrastructure is still unfunded, including projects to address drought, affordable housing, high-speed rail, and power transmission lines. By 2039, per the ASCE, continued underinvestment at current rates will cost $10 trillion in cumulative lost GDP, more than 3 million jobs in that year, and $2.24 trillion in exports over the next 20 years.
I was born in Nalerigu village in northeastern Ghana. For most of my life, I watched as my mother, Mariama, worked as a trader and used Susu to meet her financial needs. My mother used money from susu to pay my school fees and to carry out her trade business. Ghana’s Susu system is widely used by the people. Susu means “small small” in the Twi language (Amankwah et al. 2019:2). I only knew about Susu as a banking tradition in Ghana. I did not know that I would come to learn of its activity in a ‘developed’ country when I moved to Toronto, Canada to carry out my doctoral studies in anthropology. In the Spring 2022 I was hired as a research assistant to work on a project to understand rotating savings and credit associations – known as ROSCAs.
Public Banking can save the planet, close the equity gap, address systemic racism, stop funding weapons and global wars, and level the playing field for women and families. Learn more in the first series of our special and accessible workshops for women—and become a skilled advocate for economic change in your community! This is an entirely digital, small-group series of six sessions offered at a sliding scale. We'll kick off our first session on Friday, April 8th at 8pm eastern/5pm pacific. Then we'll meet together five more Fridays, at the same time (8pm eastern/5pm pacific), on April 29th, May 20th, June 10th, July 1st and July 22nd.All registration fees are donations that will fuel our work to make this information widely accessible.
As lawmakers work on finishing fiscal 2022 appropriations, they’ll have to decide whether to keep a House spending provision that would allow some post offices to offer more financial services. Coming in the wake of a largely ignored U.S. Postal Service test of a check-cashing service, a new initiative could test whether the Postal Service can attract millions of Americans who now lack banking services, serve areas largely vacated by banks and make money by doing so. Those tests depend on the Senate going along with the $6 million for a pilot project in the House’s fiscal 2022 Financial Services appropriations bill. Lawmakers are trying to finish the appropriations work before the current continuing resolution expires on March 11.
The crisis[Covid-19 pandemic] has wreaked economic havoc on working Americans. But U.S. billionaires have gotten 62 percent richer during the pandemic, while over 86 million Americans lost jobs, some 3 million households now report concerns of imminent eviction, and essential workers — particularly Latino, Indigenous and Black workers — continue to die from Covid-19 at disproportionate rates.
In the US, two senior central bank officials recently stepped down after concerns were raised about their trading activities during the pandemic. Robert Kaplan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, will step down next month, and Eric Rosengren, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, will step down at the end of September. Both were actively involved in financial markets at the beginning of the year, and therefore stood personally to benefit when the Federal Reserve made the unprecedented decision to extend its asset purchasing programme (what most of you will know as quantitative easing) to a number of different markets. The Fed not only created new money to purchase long-dated government bonds, it also actively intervened in corporate, consumer, and municipal debt markets – effectively propping up thousands of private companies, many of which then provided bumper returns to their shareholders.
Whether or not a single job or company is saved through the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), lenders will be paid hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money. As of mid-July, PPP lenders, including JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, had racked up $18 billion in fees—more than was allocated to other programs to develop vaccines, provide medical supplies and health services, and feed children. Nearly $130 billion in PPP funds have gone untapped, yet both the HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives in May and the HEALS Act introduced by the Senate in late July call for the program’s extension while removing requirements that most of its funding be spent on payroll.
It has been a hundred years since the first and only public bank was created in the United States, in North Dakota, but now there is renewed interest in starting more public banks. California passed a law last year allowing public banks. New Jersey and New York are not far behind. To explain why public banks are necessary and describe the growing movement for them, we speak with Ellen Brown of the Public Banking Institute. She discusses the benefits of public banks, how they save money and free up funds for necessary public projects and what the obstacles are. Brown also writes about financial issues. She talks about the current crisis in the repo market that is brewing in the United States and how it makes the economy precarious.
For the first time since the war on marijuana was declared by President Richard Nixon, progressive marijuana law reform was considered on the Floor of the House of Representatives, and won by a landslide. Now, it is likely to be considered by the Senate. Yesterday, members of the House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 in favor HR 1595: The SAFE Banking Act, which amends federal law so that explicitly banks and other financial institutions may work directly with state-legal marijuana businesses. If the SAFE Banking Act becomes law it will be a major advancement for legal and medical marijuana sales.