Banking Union Time Bomb: Eurocrats Authorize Bailouts AND Bail-Ins

Ellen Brown • CommonDreams.org • March 29, 2014

As things stand, the banks are the permanent government of the country, whichever party is in power.” – Lord Skidelsky, House of Lords, UK Parliament, 31 March 2011

On March 20, 2014, European Union officials reached an historic agreement to create a single agency to handle failing banks. Media attention has focused on the agreement involving the single resolution mechanism (SRM), a uniform system for closing failed banks. But the real story for taxpayers and depositors is the heightened threat to their pocketbooks of a deal that now authorizes both bailouts and “bail-ins” – the confiscation of depositor funds. The deal involves multiple concessions to different countries and may be illegal under the rules of the EU Parliament; but it is being rushed through to lock taxpayer and depositor liability into place before the dire state of Eurozone banks is exposed.

Read the entire article here.

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County-owned bank prospect stirs debate at council meeting

James Halpin • citizensvoice.com • March 26, 2014

The prospect of starting a county-owned bank generated contentious debate during the Luzerne County Council meeting Tuesday night, with several members of the public questioning its feasibility.

Council Vice Chairman Edd Brominski has suggested creating a public bank to alleviate the county’s massive debt. He hosted a breakfast seminar Monday morning in which Mike Krauss, a director of the Public Banking Institute, said such a facility could help reduce government debt and slash interest rates while keeping county money local.

The bank would assist local banks with capital for loans and would not compete with them, Krauss said. Krauss suggested money that has been “squirreled away,” such as pension funds, could fund the endeavor.

That has been a sticking point.

Kevin O’Brien, a former deputy director of the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency, questioned Tuesday whether it would be legal to use pension funds in such a manner and whether shareholders would have a say.

“What I’m concerned about is my investment in the pension fund,” O’Brien said. “I worked for this county for 30 years and I enjoy my retirement.”

County solicitor David Pedri noted the concept is in its early stages but said any borrowing from the pension fund would have to be approved by the Luzerne County Retirement Board.

Read the entire article here.

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County-owned bank could ease money issues

James Halpin • citizensvoice.com • March 25, 2014

Creating a county-owned bank could reduce government debt, slash interest rates and even be a source for immediate emergency funding during floods, according to the Pennsylvania Public Bank Project.

Mike Krauss, a director of the Public Banking Institute and the project’s chairman, told a group of local leaders, including several Luzerne County Council members, during a breakfast meeting Monday morning that a public bank would be a “banker’s bank” that would not compete with local banks.

“The main function of the kind of bank we’re proposing is to partner with local banks,” Krauss said. “It is not a retail bank. It does not compete with the local banks, and because it doesn’t do that, it has a very low cost overhead.”

Council Vice Chairman Edd Brominski organized the event at the Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center as part of a fact-finding mission to begin a financial recovery for the county, which is more than $400 million in debt.

Read the entire article here.

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The truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it

David Graeber • theguardian.com • March 18, 2014

The Bank of England’s dose of honesty throws the theoretical basis for austerity out the window

Back in the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn’t know how banking really works, because if they did, “there’d be a revolution before tomorrow morning”.

Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. In a paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy“, co-authored by three economists from the Bank’s Monetary Analysis Directorate, they stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong, and that the kind of populist, heterodox positions more ordinarily associated with groups such as Occupy Wall Street are correct. In doing so, they have effectively thrown the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.

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How USPS Could Save the Economy, Change Your Life

David Dayen • The Progressive Populist • April 1, 2014

Want to end recessions, reduce inequality, prevent fraud and help immigrants? It’s time to install postal banking

Ever since the inspector general of the US Postal Service authored a white paper endorsing the concept of postal banking, more advocates and policymakers have become intrigued. Postal banking is actually an old idea: Dozens of countries offer simple financial services through their posts, and here in America, Postal Savings Accounts served millions of customers from 1911-1967 (the post office still sells money orders today). But it could also fix a number of our current problems simultaneously, even ones you haven’t thought about. Here are 10 different applications of postal banking, in order from most to least obvious:

  1. Financial inclusion for low-income Americans
  2. Reducing inequality and boosting the economy
  3. Stabilizing the Postal Service
  4. A better way to deliver federal benefits
  5. A savings vehicle for the poor
  6. Bringing immigrants into society
  7. Preventing identity fraud
  8. Modernizing the payment system
  9. Safeguarding personal data
  10. Ending recessions

Read the entire article here.

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What North Dakota’s Public Bank Does for Small Businesses

Robb Mandelbaum • New York Times – Small Business Blog • March 6, 2014

…Mr. Brasch visited his local bank, Alerus Financial, based in Grand Forks, and came away with a financing package that would be unusual anywhere but North Dakota, which operates the country’s only public bank. The state-owned Bank of North Dakota helped finance the loan — and also used state money to buy down the interest rate, from 5.25 percent to 1 percent.

North Dakota uses the bank to funnel deposits from state agencies back into the state’s economy through a variety of loan and other development programs. Mostly it makes loans, teaming with local private banks that initiate the transactions with borrowers. The state-owned bank typically takes half of a business loan, and the interest rate on the state-lent portion is normally one or two percentage points below the market rate.

Read the entire article here.

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15 Vermont Towns Say Yes To Creating A Public State Bank

Shadee Ashtari • HuffingtonPost.com • March 6, 2014

On the first Tuesday of March, communities across Vermont hold town meetings at which they elect local officials, approve the coming year’s budget and vote on measures announced in advance.

This week, 19 Vermont cities and towns voted on a measure calling for the Vermont Economic Development Authority, a statewide finance lender created in 1974, to be turned into a public bank. Fifteen approved the notion.

In January, state Sen. Anthony Pollina (D) and five other progressive state lawmakers had introduced legislation to advance the proposal. Senate Bill 204 would direct the state government to deposit 10 percent of its unrestricted funds in a public VEDA bank, which could then leverage the money in the same manner as private banks do.

The Senate legislation would:

(1) create statutorily the 10 Percent for Vermont Program within the Vermont Economic Development Authority for the purpose of establishing a banking system owned, controlled, and operated by the State of Vermont;

(2) amend the statutory authority of the Vermont Economic Development Authority to permit it to engage in the business of banking; and
(3) direct the State Treasurer to transfer 10 percent of the State government’s cash reserves to the 10 Percent for Vermont Program for initial funding.

The pilot program would partner with local private banks to offer loans and boost economic development “by increasing access to capital for businesses in the State,” according to the legislative text. VEDA is currently financed by legislatively appropriated funding, bonds and other means.

A companion bill, HB 627, has been introduced in the state House.

Read the entire article here.

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