Economic forecasts predict long-term unemployment and business closures as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Until there's a widely available and safe vaccine, there will be no hoped-for "V-shaped" recovery. In fact, what we have seen so far is the largest corporations getting bigger and the rich getting richer, as they take over market and services from smaller and locally-owned retailers, restaurants, and service providers.
As financial institutions committed to putting the public good first, public banks would be a key component of a broad economic recovery, if there were more of them! Fortunately there are active campaigns to establish public banks in cities and states across the US. The Massachusetts and Oregon campaigns are Alliance-sponsored projects.
We hope you'll support efforts to create a public bank where you live--and when you do, feel free to share your pro-public bank letter with us!
To read David's letter online, click here.
A State Bank Would Help Our Economy
The headline read “$600B rescue program off to a rocky start” and details how the Main Street Lending Program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Fed’s programs to assist small and medium sized business, have failed thus far in their missions. This is due in part because the private banks’ participation in the programs was optional, creating confusion for those applying. Loan seekers had to search for a participating bank and then try to figure out how to apply for the programs. Many banks did not even know that the programs existed.
The case is so different in North Dakota, which has the highest Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan awards per worker of any state. Why is that? Because it has the nation’s only state public bank. The North Dakota State Bank coordinated unemployment benefits through community banks and had the ability to educate local bankers on the programs’ requirements before the programs were launched. This allowed rapid and easy participation.
Why did it do that? Because a public bank’s mission is to provide a public benefit and service. Private banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America are run for the benefit of the bank’s owners and shareholders.
The state of Oregon should investigate the benefits of creating a public state bank. And cities like Portland should investigate how creating public municipal banks can benefit a cities’ people. Both should do so NOW!
David Delk, Portland