Radical Banking

ellen wall streetWhat North Dakota has been doing for more than 100 years that saved the state from the 2008 credit crisis.

Ellen Brown is an author, attorney, public speaker, and advocate of financial reform, most prominently public banking. She was 2014 California State Treasurer Green Party candidate. She is the founder and president of the Public Banking Institute, a nonpartisan think tank devoted to the creation of publicly run banks. She is also the president of Third Millennium Press, and has authored twelve books, including Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution, as well as over 200 published articles and is often consulted as an expert by media.  She received her JD from UCLA and has written on & been very engaged in alternative medicine, women’s health, and the pharmaceutical industry 

Food For Thought & Conversation

The Bank of North Dakota makes low interest loans to existing small businesses and start-ups. It partners with private banks to provide a secondary market for mortgages and supports local governments by buying municipal bonds.

The public banking model used by the State of North Dakota is simple – the State of North Dakota is doing business as the Bank of North Dakota (BND). That means all the state’s assets are used to capitalize the BND. By law, all the state’s revenues are also deposited in the Bank. Among other advantages, this gives the BND the ability to participate in loans originated and led by private banks, which then have more flexibility to manage and expand their loan portfolios.

As a public bank, the Bank of North Dakota pays its dividend to its only shareholder – the people of the state. In the past decade, despite its small population and modest volume of economic activity, the Bank of North Dakota has returned over $300 million to the state’s general fund, helping to ensure regular annual surpluses and eliminate the need for drastic tax increases or spending cuts for vital public services.

Please share your thoughts about the Bank of North Dakota.

  • Why is ND the only state with a state bank?
  • Ellen Brown led the effort for California to do a feasibility study on a state bank that was approved by the legislature but vetoed by the governor Jerry Brown. Why would Jerry Brown veto a state bank?
  • How on earth did she manage to get the idea through the legislature in the first place? What are the odds of getting a state or city bank in your state?
  • Most states, with the exception of North Dakota, currently deposit their tax revenues (the public’s money) in private Wall Street banks, which use these deposits for their own private gain. This money could be deposited in the state’s own bank and used to fund projects and programs that benefit the public over the long term – the very same projects/programs that are currently being cut from state budgets.  What are your thoughts about this idea?
  •  As of the spring of 2010, North Dakota was also the only state sporting a major budget surplus; it had the lowest unemployment and default rates in the country; and it had the most community banks per capita, suggesting that the presence of a state-owned bank has not only not hurt but has helped the local banks. The latter idea is one that is frequently mentioned when the topic of state owned banks comes up.  Express your opinion.


  • The Public Banking Institute has facilitated the formation of chapters around the country to take action on public banking initiatives.  Find out if your state has a chapter
  • Learn about additional models of banks doing differently: (1)New Resource Bank – the first publicly traded company to become a certified B or Benefits Corporation. Fifty percent of its employees share ownership of the company and 84% of current loan commitments are invested in organizations that benefit communities and preserve the planet. (2) Beneficial State Bank – a B Corporation and Community Development Financial Institution. It is mandated to produce meaningful social justice and environmental benefits at the same time that it is financially sustainable. More info on these banks. Express your opinion about what you learn.
  • Learn if  there are banks in your community operating as B corporations like those above. them. Learn and compare the mission of local community banks and credit unions. How can you support them?
  • Invite friends, colleagues or community members to view this video with you and host a conversation.

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