Radical Banking

Updated August 2019.

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



The Bank of North Dakota is owned by the citizens of the state. It has $7 Billion in assets, a loan portfolio of over $7 Billion and puts $30 to 50 Million a year into the state’s budget. During the 2008 financial crisis, there was not one default or foreclosure in the state.

The bank makes low interest loans to citizens, small businesses and start-ups while partnering with local banks.

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.

As a public bank, the Bank of North Dakota pays its dividend to its only shareholder – the people of the state. By returning funds to the state’s general fund, it helps to ensure regular annual surpluses and eliminates the need for drastic tax increases or spending cuts for vital public services.

  • Why do you think that North Dakota is the only state with a state bank?

  • 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?

  • Ellen Brown in her interview states that the bridge built in Los Angeles had over 50% of its costs in bank financing and loan interest. A state bank offers low fees and interest. Are you aware of what the percentage of bank costs and interests in loans made to benefit your city, community or state is? Personal bank loans?


  • 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 more from the Institute about how you can become involved.

  • 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?

  • Host a book discussion group based on Ellen’s new book: Banking on the People, 2019.
  • Invite friends, colleagues or community members to view this video with you and host a conversation.


Ellen Brown is an authorattorney, 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. Her most recent book is Banking on the People. Others include Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution, as well as over 200 published articles.  She received her JD from UCLA. 

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