The need for a public banking option is urgent. Nearly 10 million households, a disproportionate number of whom are people of color, are unbanked in the United States. Unbanked or underbanked households must pay expensive fees for non-bank financial services to access their own money for paying bills, cashing checks, remittances, rent, and ATM withdrawals — costing upwards of $2,400 annually. The widely trusted U.S. Postal Service has a long history of postal banking and is physically located in every community, making it the sensible option to provide a public banking solution. But this requires a good faith effort, done well.
Why Grassroots Activists Are Turning To The Wonky World Of Monetary Policy To Fight For Economic Justice
Ohio - How many people would like to cut the cost of local mass transit improvements in half, divert local tax dollars from big bank use to supporting low-income housing at home, see one-time federal relief packages for struggling families continue? All that and much more becomes possible without costing taxpayers a dime, if we choose a more efficient and democratic system for handling money than our current one, which systematically benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. To learn how, we’ll need to explore a different “plumbing system” for handling our money supply. In a groundbreaking move in this direction, a League of Women Voters group has been doing exactly that, calling us to consider how something we take for granted — the money supply — can be reinvented in a way that promotes democracy, justice and the planet.
In prescribing cures for inflation, economists rely on the diagnosis of Nobel laureate Milton Friedman: inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon—too much money chasing too few goods. But that equation has three variables: too much money (“demand”) chasing (the “velocity” of spending) too few goods (“supply”). And “orthodox” economists, from Lawrence Summers to the Federal Reserve, seem to be focusing only on the “demand” variable. The Fed’s prescription is to suppress demand (borrowing and spending) by raising interest rates. Summers, a former U.S. Treasury Secretary who presided over the massive post-2008 bank bailouts, is proposing to reduce demand by raising taxes or raising unemployment rates, reducing disposable income and thus people’s ability to spend.
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.
Millions of Americans have joined the ranks of the unemployed, and government relief checks and savings are running out; meanwhile, the country still needs trillions of dollars in infrastructure. Putting the unemployed to work on those infrastructure projects seems an obvious solution, especially given that the $600 or $700 stimulus checks Congress is planning on issuing will do little to address the growing crisis. Various plans for solving the infrastructure crisis involving public-private partnerships have been proposed, but they’ll invariably result in private investors reaping the profits while the public bears the costs and liabilities.
As marginalized families without bank accounts struggle to get stimulus checks, it's time to fix the rusty pipes of our inequitable financial system. The COVID-19 pandemic response has shown that the very foundations of our economy are shaky, fragile, and — for some of us — downright dangerous. We’re once again watching working people, especially working people of color, bear the brunt of the fallout. Meanwhile, big companies traded on the stock market took two-thirds of the money meant to bail out small businesses.
At least 90 percent of the nation’s cities are facing a budget crisis because of the economic shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a mid-April report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities. Because municipal governments cannot run deficits, they will have to respond by cutting staff and programs, which will worsen the economic conditions of the cities they serve. If cities had public banks, they would be much better equipped to deal with these budget shortfalls and maintain the services and staff most vital to their economic recovery. That’s why state and local political leaders should use emergency powers to rapidly create public banks that can serve as key engines of a just and sustainable economic recovery. Public banks are new to most of us in America, but they have been a proven institution globally for the past few hundred years.
The Public Banking Institute has been working since 2011 to return control of money and credit to states and communities and create a network of publicly-owned federal, state and municipal banks that would establish a safe, low-cost alternative to the current exploitative financial system controlled by Wall Street. Our Board and Advisory Board members include noted economists, bankers, professors, authors, and organizational leaders. Our letter outlines four immediate actions needed to rescue the Main Street economy following the coronavirus shutdowns and ensuing financial collapse and shows how they can be done without imposing additional taxes or driving up consumer prices.
It’s a sunny August Saturday in Far Rockaway, and New York State Senator James Sanders Jr. could hardly be more in his element. He’s riding high, not only on his parade float leading the 3rd Annual Carnival in the Rockaways, but also in his relatively new position as chair of the NY State Senate Committee on Banks. Both of those positions will be crucial for Sanders as he prepares to take on Wall Street in the 2020 state legislative session. People come out as the parade comes by to sit on stoops, porches, stand out in front of stores, and along sidewalks.
For only the second time in 100 years, a people-powered coalition overcame the stiff opposition of the banking lobby to successfully pass a law that legalizes public banking. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) signed a bill into law last month allowing California cities and towns to establish public banks. It was almost a century ago that a similar grassroots uprising in North Dakota overcame the clout of big finance to establish the state-run Bank of North Dakota. And the passage of the California law may reverberate across the country. “We finally have the option of reinvesting our public tax dollars in our communities instead of rewarding Wall Street’s bad behavior,” AB 857 sponsor and California Assembly member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) told the Los Angeles Times.
Public Banking in California is a fantastic and historic breakthrough. This has been a longtime struggle of thousands of activists in California and throughout the country. Many cities and states have been making progress and this will the first breakthrough of many. Of course, we should expect Wall Street to respond aggressively, so let's escalate our organizing and seize this opportunity. If we increase our efforts on this critical issue we can open the floodgates to democratized banking and take control of finance from Wall Street and give it to the people.
Central bankers are acknowledging that they are out of ammunition. Mark Carney, the soon-to-be-retiring head of the Bank of England, said in a speech at the annual meeting of central bankers in August in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, “In the longer-term, we need to change the game.” The same point was made by Philipp Hildebrand, former head of the Swiss National Bank, in an August 2019 interview with Bloomberg. “Really there is little if any ammunition left,” he said. “More of the same in terms of monetary policy is unlikely to be an appropriate response if we get into a recession or sharp downturn.” “More of the same” meant further lowering interest rates, the central bankers’ stock tool for maintaining their targeted inflation rate in a downturn.
People from all hues of the political spectrum are recognizing that having local transparent control over the creation of credit through a publicly-owned bank not only saves money, but also gives communities the keys to the most important engine running an economy. Advocates see that this engine could be directed effectively to serve those whom Wall Street has continually exploited. A new report by the Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE) calls for a public bank in Chicago to serve the people who live there, instead of the financial elite.
In honor of the Bank of North Dakota’s centennial anniversary, here is an excellent academic report from Cornell University that includes a detailed case study of BND’s 2015 Infrastructure Loan Fund. The report examines the “unique benefits of public banksand explores strategies for the implementation of similar structured institutions in New York State and the broader US context.” Prepared by Shareef M. Hussam for Professor Mildred Warner at Cornell’s Department of City and Regional Planning, it provides strong academic reinforcement for advocates’ testimony...
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — one of two insurgent progressive candidates to succeed in their races for Congress — submitted draft text for a select committee on a Green New Deal financed by a system of national and regional public banks and the Federal Reserve. The plan calls for a sweeping mobilization to make the US carbon neutral and draw down greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere and oceans. The inclusion of public banking is an important indicator that awareness of its value has reached the federal level, in good measure due to local advocates who have been pressing the case to Ocasio-Cortez and her team.