Can Public Banks End Wall Street Hegemony?

Willie Osterweil • • October 30, 2012

Since the financial collapse began in 2008,Wall Street bankers’ claims to being the smartest guys in the room—hard-working innovators with billion dollar ideas and the will to execute them—have been proven all too right. When it comes to stealing the accumulated wealth of the American people, no group in living memory has proven to be so ceaselessly creative, so ruthlessly efficient at turning public wealth into private cash.

It’s not just the bailouts, though they are the most obvious example. The federal government, with its revolving-door that always opens on Wall Street, has failed to prosecute any but the most brazen and stupid crimes, giving implicit criminal immunity to the banks, while regularly passing wheelbarrows of friendly legislation (not to mention national tax-receipts) their way.

But at least in D.C it’s team work. When it comes to state, county and municipal governments, school boards and transit authorities, Wall Street prefers the straight con, emptying local coffers through purposely complex debt instruments and shoddy financial products. Not a few pensions went bust buying CDOs , the infamous securities created by slicing and dicing a pool of worthless mortgages to make them appear AAA safe.

But the financial innovators devised an even more direct technique for emptying the pockets of local governments. Selling “structured finance” products and “interest-rate swap” bonds, they’ve turned the nation’s vital infrastructure into a cash cow. In a fiery speech to Philadelphia City Council on October 23, Mike Krauss, director of the Public Banking Institute, denounced these Wall Street practices and offered a local solution that municipalities could take up to free themselves from these forms of fraud.

Read the entire article here.

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PBI News Alert: The Philadelphia Testimony — A Model Speech For Any Citizen to Give to Any Government Official

PBI News Alert • • Oct 23, 2012

23 OCTOBER, 2012

Mr. Councilman Kenney, Members of City Council:

My name is Mike Krauss. I am a director of the nationally recognized Public Banking Institute, and chair of the Pennsylvania Project.

The Public Banking Institute and the Pennsylvania Project are not-for-profit and non-partisan public policy organizations, both engaged in campaigns of public education to achieve creation of public banks in the United States at the state, county and municipal level.

We are here today to challenge you to fight for the people of this city, and to JUST SAY NO to the “too-big-to-fail” banks that failed and are now gouging this city and its people of hundreds of millions of dollars in the interest rate swap swindle that is the subject of this hearing…

Read the entire PBI News Alert here.

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Understanding the 2008 Financial Crisis, by RepoWatch

Mary Fricker • • October 20, 2012

When Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September 2008 that he needed nearly $1 trillion to fix the financial markets, I knew subprime mortgages alone could not have done that kind of damage. Didn’t banks pool those loans and sell slices of the pools to investors? Don’t investors make and lose billions of dollars on the financial markets every day? Why were their losses suddenly landing in the taxpayers’ laps? Something else had to be involved, something hidden, something I wasn’t aware of, something dangerous.

Here it is.

What follows are (1) a definition, (2) a short article for beginners and (3) a story with much more detail.

Thanks for your interest.

Mary Fricker
Editor, RepoWatch

Read the complete article here.

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PBI News Alert: PBI BBQ Oyster and Beer House Party, 4-6pm, October 21, 2012, in San Rafael, CA

PBI News Alert • • Oct 20, 2012

If you live in the SF Bay Area and would like to learn more about public banking, please consider coming to PBI’s BBQ Oyster and Beer House Party this Sunday in San Rafael, from 4-6pm. Many public banking advocates will be there and will be able to provide you with information about the latest on public banking and the Public Banking Institute’s strategy for success. You’ll be able to meet with Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt, who will provide everyone with an update on the material she is gathering for her soon-to-be-released book on public banking.

Please join us! If you wish to have the specific address, send an email to and we’ll send you the invitation with the information you’ll need to attend. This is our first house party fundraiser, so please support public banking and enjoy the afternoon with other public banking advocates!

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