We envision a network of publicly-owned banks whose mission is the public good
The Public Banking Institute (PBI) was formed in January 2011 to spread awareness of the transformative power of public banking and to support efforts to create public banks at every level of government.
Public banking is banking in the public interest. And, public banks are tools for creating shared prosperity.
Our mission is to inspire, enable, and support Public Bank initiatives, returning control of money and credit to states and communities.
Our vision is that a network of publicly-owned banks will be established that create affordable credit and allow communities to declare independence from Wall Street’s high-risk, expensive, unaccountable private banking system.
Our goal is to establish a safe, affordable, community-driven alternative to the costly and dangerous financial system controlled by Wall Street.
By giving states and communities the power to create money and decide where it is invested, public banks can:
- support local business and create jobs
- build and maintain infrastructure
- support and expand public budgets, and
- stabilize communities in times of economic crisis
Public banks don’t replace local banks. They partner with community banks to fill the gaps in our financial infrastructure and make affordable loans available to governments and creditworthy homeowners, students, and entrepreneurs. Public banks can finance community needs such as infrastructure, green energy, affordable housing, and worker-owned cooperatives. And instead of supporting wealthy shareholders, public bank profits return to the communities they serve.
Our story began in 2008 when the excessive and careless practices of big Wall Street banks plunged the United States (and much of the world’s economy) into recession. While most Wall Street institutions were bailed out by the US government, cities, states, and working Americans were left to fend for themselves.
Ellen Brown, an attorney and author of Web of Debt, began researching alternatives in the banking/financial sector that might empower regional governments, Main Street, and the middle class against the ruthless hegemony of Wall Street and the big banks. She soon discovered the only public bank still operating in the US: the Bank of North Dakota, which had demonstrated a highly successful economic record since its creation 90 years earlier.
In researching BND further, Ellen realized she had discovered a model bank serving the public interest, with a successful track record fostering real economic development that consistently met the needs of students, small businesses, community banks, disaster relief, and long term government infrastructure planning.
As Ellen began writing articles on public banking for her blog, news services began picking up the stories. In 2011, she and a small group of dedicated colleagues founded the nonprofit Public Banking Institute in order to advance the cause of public banking nationally.
PBI has supported numerous state and city public banking initiatives, put on major national conferences, and has established significant allies across the political and economic spectrum. Since its establishment, PBI has been instrumental in drawing attention to public banking as our nation’s most promising option for economic transformation. With PBI’s help, legislators, activists, and local leaders are pursuing public banks from Hawaii to Maine, from Pennsylvania to New Mexico, and more.
In 2013, Ellen Brown published the highly-acclaimed book The Public Bank Solution. In 2014, she ran for California State Treasurer, stepping back from her role as President of PBI to focus on her campaign. She returned to PBI as Chair in 2016 and keeps a busy schedule speaking at conferences and events around the world, advising legislators and advocates, giving a myriad of interviews, and hosting the podcast It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown — all to promote the power of public banking.
PBI is supported by individual donations.
PBI is dedicated to supporting the emergence of a nationwide network of public banks by:
- supporting regional, state and city public banking initiatives,
- inspiring, educating, and empowering the public, and
- exposing the true cost of the current system at city and state levels.
We have a wealth of resources on our website to help everyone, from newbie to legislative researcher to expert.