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The Growing Movement For Publically Owned Banks

by Ellen Brown

       As the states’ budget and credit crises deepen, four states have initiated bills for state-owned banks, and candidates in seven states have included that solution in their platforms. 

“Hundreds of job-creating projects are still on hold because Michigan businesses and entrepreneurs cannot get bank financing. We can break the credit crunch and beat Wall Street at their own game by keeping our money right here in Michigan and investing it to retool our economy and create jobs.”

– Lansing, Michigan Mayor Virg Bernero in the Detroit News, May 9, 2010

              Michigan has an unemployment rate of 14 percent and has been particularly hard hit by the nation’s economic downturn. Bernero, mayor of the state’s capitol and a leading Democratic candidate for governor, proposed that the state relieve its economic ills by opening a state-owned bank. He said the bank could protect consumers by making low-interest loans to those most in need, including students and small businesses; and could help community banks by buying mortgages off their books and working with them to fund development projects.

           Bernero joins a growing list of candidates proposing this sensible solution to their states’ fiscal ills. Local economies have collapsed because of the Wall Street credit freeze. To reinvigorate local business, Main Street needs a heavy infusion of credit; and publicly owned banks could fill that need.

The True Potential of Publicly Owned Banks

       North Dakota broke new ground nearly a century ago, but the true potential of publicly owned banks remains to be explored. Nearly all of our money today is created by banks when they extend loans. (See the Chicago Federal Reserve’s “Modern Money Mechanics, which begins, “The actual process of money creation takes place primarily in banks.”) We the people have given away our sovereign money-creating power to private, for-profit lending institutions, which have used it to siphon wealth from the productive economy. If we were to take that power back, we could generate the credit we need to underwrite a whole cornucopia of projects that we don’t even consider because we think we lack the “money.” We have the labor and we have the materials; we just lack the “liquidity” necessary to put them together to create products and services.

            Money today is just a ticket, a receipt for work performed and goods delivered. We can fund the work we need done by creating our own credit. The real promise of publicly owned banks is not that they can bail out subprime borrowers but that they can jumpstart the economy by creating real wealth. They can provide the liquidity to put labor and materials together, allowing the economy to build and grow. Our private, profit-driven banking sector has been bleeding wealth from the rest of the economy. Public-interest banks can transfuse the economy with the credit it needs to flourish and be productive once again.

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Story courtesy of : Truthout.org