Public-Sector Banks: From Black Sheep to Global Leaders

Ellen Brown • • March 9, 2012

Public-sector banking is a concept that is relatively unknown in the United States. Only one state – North Dakota – owns its own bank. North Dakota is also the only state to escape the credit crisis of 2008, and has sported a budget surplus every year since, but skeptics write this off to coincidence or other factors. The common perception is that government bureaucrats are bad business people. To determine whether government-owned banks are assets or liabilities, then, we need to look farther afield.

When we remove our myopic US blinders, it turns out that, globally, not only are publicly owned banks quite common, but countries with strong public banking sectors generally have strong, stable economies. According to an Inter-American Development Bank paper presented in 2005, the percentage of state ownership in the banking industry globally by the mid-nineties was over 40 percent. The BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – contain nearly 3 billion of the world’s 7 billion people, or 40 percent of the global population. The BRICs all make heavy use of public-sector banks, which compose about 75 percent of the banks in India, 69 percent or more in China, 45 percent in Brazil and 60 percent in Russia.

Read the article here.

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