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Ellen Brown is the founder of the Public Banking Institute and the author of a dozen books and hundreds of articles. She developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In the best-selling Web of Debt (2007, 2012), she turned those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and Уthe money trust,Ф showing how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves and how we the people can get it back.
In The Public Bank Solution (2013) she traces the evolution of two banking models that have competed historically, public and private; and explores contemporary public banking systems globally. She has presented these ideas at scores of conferences in the US and abroad, including in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Croatia, Malaysia, Mexico and Venezuela.
Brown developed an interest in the developing world and its problems while living abroad for eleven years in Kenya, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua. She returned to practicing law when she was asked to join the legal team of a popular Tijuana healer with an innovative cancer therapy, who was targeted by the chemotherapy industry in the 1990s. That experience produced her book Forbidden Medicine, which traces the suppression of natural health treatments to the same corrupting influences that have captured the money system. She also co-authored the bestselling NatureТs Pharmacy, which has sold 285,000 copies.
Ellen ran for California State Treasurer in 2014 with the endorsement of the Green Party garnering a record number of votes for a Green Party candidate. Her 330+ blog articles are at http://EllenBrown.com. The Public Banking Institute is at http://PublicBankingInstitute.org. She can be heard biweekly on УItТs Our Money with Ellen BrownФ on PRN.FM.
Books By Ellen Hodgson Brown:
The Recent Articles List
Jan 08, 2020
The Fed Protects Gamblers at the Expense of the Economy:
Mexico Is Showing the World How to Defeat Neoliberalism
ћексика показывает миру, как победить неолиберализм
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico's president. (Eneas De Troya / CC BY 2.0)
While U.S. advocates and local politicians struggle to get their first public banks chartered, MexicoТs new president has begun construction on 2,700 branches of a government-owned bank to be completed in 2021, when it will be the largest bank in the country. At a press conference on Jan. 6, he said the neoliberal model had failed; private banks were not serving the poor and people outside the cities, so the government had to step in.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO) has been compared to the United KingdomТs left-wing opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, with one notable difference: AMLO is now in power. He and his left-wing coalition won by a landslide in MexicoТs 2018 general election, overturning the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that had ruled the country for much of the past century. Called MexicoТs Уfirst full-fledged left-wing experiment,Ф AMLOТs election marks a dramatic change in the political direction of the country. AMLO wrote in his 2018 book УA New Hope for Mexico,Ф УIn Mexico the governing class constitutes a gang of plunderersЕ. Mexico will not grow strong if our public institutions remain at the service of the wealthy elites.Ф
The new president has held to his campaign promises. In 2019, his first year in office, he did what Donald Trump pledged to do Ч Уdrain the swampФ Ч purging the government of technocrats and institutions he considered corrupt, profligate or impeding the transformation of Mexico after 36 years of failed market-focused neoliberal policies. Other accomplishments have included substantially increasing the minimum wage while cutting top government salaries and oversize pensions; making small loans and grants directly to farmers; guaranteeing crop prices for key agricultural crops; launching programs to benefit youth, the disabled and the elderly; and initiating a $44 billion infrastructure plan. López ObradorТs goal, he says, is to construct a Уnew paradigmФ in economic policy that improves human welfare, not just increases gross domestic product.
The End of the Neoliberal Era
To deliver on that promise, in July 2019 AMLO converted the publicly owned federal savings bank Bansefi into a УBank of the PoorФ (Banco del Bienestar or УWelfare BankФ). He said on Jan. 6 that the neoliberal era had eliminated all the state-owned banks but one, which he had gotten approval to expand with 2,700 new branches. Added to the existing 538 branches of the former Bansefi, that will bring the total in two years to 3,238 branches, far outstripping any other bank in the country. (Banco Azteca, currently the largest by number of branches, has 1,860.)
Digital banking will also be developed. Speaking to a local group in December, AMLO said his goal was for the Bank of the Poor to reach 13,000 branches, more than all the private banks in the country combined.
At a news conference on Jan. 8, he explained why this new bank was needed:
There are more than 1,000 municipalities that donТt have a bank branch. WeТre dispersing [welfare] resources but we donТt have a way to do it. . . . People have to go to branches that are two, three hours away. If we donТt bring these services close to the people, weТre not going to bring development to the people. Е
TheyТre already building. IТll invite you within two months, three at the most, to the inauguration of the first branches because theyТre already working, theyТre getting the land Е because we have to do it quickly.
The president said the 10 billion pesos ($530.4 million) needed to build the new branches would come from government savings; and that 5 million had already been transferred to the Banco del Bienestar, which would pass the funds to the Secretariat of Defense, whose engineers were responsible for construction. The military will also be used to transport physical funds to the branches for welfare payments. AMLO added, УThey are helping me. They are propping me up. The military has behaved very well and they donТt back down at all. They always tell me Сyes you can, yes we do, go.Т Ф
To concerns that the government-owned bank would draw deposits away from commercial banks and might compete in other ways, such as making interest-free loans to small businesses, AMLO countered:
ThereТs no reason to be complaining about us building these branches. Е [I]f private banks want to build branches, they have every right to go to the towns and build their branches, but as they wonТt because they believe that itТs not [good] business, we have to do it . . . itТs our social responsibility, the state canТt shirk its social responsibility.
Issues With the Central Bank
While the legislature has approved the new bank, MexicoТs central bank can still block it if bank regulations are breached. Ricardo Delfín, who works at the international accounting firm KPMG, told the newspaper La Razón that if the money to fund the bank comes from a loan from the federal government rather than from capital, it will adversely affect the bankТs УCapitalization Ratio.Ф But AMLO contends that the bank will be self-sufficient. Funding for construction will come from federal savings from other programs, and the bankТs operating expenses will be covered by small commissions paid on each transaction by customers, most of whom are welfare recipients. Branches will be built on land owned by the government or donated, and software companies have offered to advise for free.
About the central bank, he said:
WeТre going to speak with those from the Bank of México respecting the autonomy of the Bank of México. We have to educate them because for them this is an anachronism, even sacrilege, because they have other ideas. But weТve arrived here [in government] after telling the people that the neoliberal economic policy was going to change. . . .
There shouldnТt be obstacles. How is the Bank of México going to stop us from having a [bank] branch that disperses resources in favor of the people? What damage does that do? Whom does it harm?
AMLO has repeatedly promised not to interfere in the business of the central bank, which has been autonomous for the past quarter of a century. But he has also said that he would like its mandate expanded from just preserving the value of the peso by fighting inflation to include fostering growth. The concern, according to The Financial Times, is that he might use the central bank to fund government programs, following in the footsteps of ArgentinaТs former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Уwhose heterodox policies led to high inflation and, many economists believe, the countryТs current crisis.Ф
Mark Weisbrot counters in The New York Times, however, that ArgentinaТs problems were caused, not by printing money to fund domestic development, but by a massive foreign debt. Hyperinflation actually happened under Fernández de KirchnerТs successor, President Mauricio Macri, who replaced her in 2015. The public debt grew from 53% to more than 86% of GDP, inflation soared from 18% to 54%, short-term interest rates shot up to 75%, and poverty increased from 27% to 40%.
In an upset election in August 2019, the outraged Argentinian public re-elected Fernández de Kirchner as vice president and her former head of the cabinet of ministers as president, restoring the 12-year Kirchner legacy begun by her husband, Nestor Kirchner, in 2003 and considered by Weisbrot to be among the most successful presidencies in the Western Hemisphere.
More appropriate than Argentina as a model for what can be achieved by a government working in partnership with its central bank is that of Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has funded his stimulus programs by selling government bonds directly to the Bank of Japan. The BOJ now holds nearly 50% of the governmentТs debt, yet consumer price inflation remains low Ч so low that the BOJ cannot get the figure up even to its 2% target.
Other Funding Options
AMLO is unlikely to go that route, because he has vowed not to interfere with the central bank; but analysts say he needs to introduce some sort of economic stimulus, because MexicoТs GDP has slipped in the last year. The Mexican president has criticized GDP as the ultimate standard, advocating instead for a model of development that incorporates wealth distribution and access to education, health, housing and culture into its measurements.
But as Kurt Hackbarth warned in Jacobin in December, УTo fully unfurl [his] program without simply ransacking other line items to pay for it will require doing something AMLO has up to now categorically ruled out: raising taxes on the rich and large corporations which, not surprisingly, make out like utter bandits in MexicoТs rigged financial system.Ф
AMLO has continually vowed, however, not to raise taxes on the rich. Instead he has enlisted MexicoТs business magnates as investors in public-private partnerships, allowing him to avoid the Уtequila trapФ that brought down Argentina and Mexico itself in earlier years Ч getting locked into debt to foreign investors and the International Monetary Fund. MexicoТs business leaders seem happy to invest in the country, despite some slippage in GDP.
As noted by Carlos Slim, MexicoТs wealthiest man, УDebt didnТt go up, there is no fiscal deficit and inflation came down.Ф In November 2019, the Economy Secretariat reported that foreign direct investment showed a 7.8% increase in the first nine months of that year compared with the same period in 2018, reaching its second highest level ever; and at the end of 2019 the peso was up around 4%. Stocks also rose 4.5%, and inflation dropped from 4.8% to 3%.
Partnering with local businessleaders is politically expedient, but public/private partnerships can be expensive; and as U.K. Professor Richard Werner points out, tapping up private investors merely recirculates existing money in the economy. Better would be to borrow directly from banks, which create new bank money when they lend, as the Bank of England has confirmed. This new money then circulates in the economy, stimulating productivity.
Today, the best model for that approach is China, which funds infrastructure by borrowing from its own state-owned banks. Like all banks, they create loans as bank credit on their books, which is then repaid with the proceeds of the projects created with the loans. There is no need to tap up the central bank or rich investors or the tax base. Government banks can create money on their books just as central banks and private banks do.
For Mexico, however, using its public banks as China does would be something for the future, if at all. Meanwhile, AMLO has been a trailblazer in showing how a national public banking system can be initiated quickly and efficiently. The key, it seems, is just to have the political will Ч along with massive support from the public, the legislature, local business leaders and the military.
Ёллен Ѕраун: ћексика похоронила неолиберализм
как идеологию Ђбанды грабителейї
ƒорогие члены √—√, друзь€!
ћы счастливы познакомить вас с замечательной статьей Ёллен Ѕраун Ђћексика показывает миру, как победить неолиберализмї, котора€ была опубликована с нашими подчеркивани€ми на ее странице здесь: https://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=918.
Ёллен дает блест€щий анализ новой Ђэкономической парадигмыї нового президента ћексики: Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). Ёта парадигма, порожденна€ политической волей ћексиканского президента, похоронила одр€хлевший неолиберализм как идеологию Ђбанды грабителейї. Ёта парадигма поставила вопросы о смене либеральных стандартов развити€: вместо ¬¬ѕ Ц уровень благососто€ни€ населени€ и много других новшеств в создании национальной государственной банковской системы, вытесн€ющей либеральную систему Ђбанды грабителейї.
»нновационный опыт ћексики и ее президента открывают дл€ нас возможность инициировать перед ним модель √андианской сферной ненасильственной демократии, бюджетна€/финансова€ система которой нацелена не на американские приоритеты войны и милитаризма, а на √андианские, народные приоритеты мира, ненасили€, гармонии дл€ благососто€ни€ населени€. ћы приглашаем наше Ћатино-јмериканское отделение √—√ подумать о реализации этой возможности в ћексике, когда мы опубликуем нашу √андикратию и когда у нас будет »спанска€ √андика. ћы надеемс€, что Ёллен могла бы помочь нам в этом и написать небольшую статью о ћексиканском опыте в нашу новую книгу, если она хочет и может. Ёто был бы ее большой вклад в глобальный мир через модернизацию и демократии, и ее банковской системы. ћы высоко оценим этот вклад.
Ћучшие пожелани€ мира из гармонии,
Ellen Brown: Mexico buries neoliberalism
as Уa gang of plunderersФ ideology
Dear GHA members, friends,
We are happy to introduce you to the wonderful article by Dr. Ellen Brown УMexico shows the world how to defeat neoliberalismФ, which was published with our underlines on her page here: https://peacefromharmony.org/?cat=en_c&key=918 .
Ellen gives a brilliant analysis of the new Уeconomic paradigmФ of the new President of Mexico: Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). This paradigm generated by the political will of the Mexican president buried decrepit neoliberalism as the ideology of "a gang of plunderers." This paradigm posed questions about changing liberal development standards: instead of GDP, it was the level of well-being of the population and many other innovations in creating a public banking system, crowding out the liberal system of Уrobber gangsФ.
The innovative experience of Mexico and its president offers us the opportunity to initiate before him a model of the Gandhian spheral nonviolent democracy, the budget / financial system of which is aimed not at the American priorities of war and militarism, but at the Gandhian, popular priorities of peace, non-violence, harmony for the well-being of the population. We invite our GHA Latin American Department to think about the implementation of this opportunity in Mexico when we publish our УGandhicracyФ and when we will have the Spanish Gandhica. We hope that Ellen could help us with this and write a short article about the Mexican experience in our new book, if she wants and can. This would be her great contribution to global peace through modernization of both democracy and its banking system.
We will greatly appreciate this contribution.
Best wishes for peace from harmony,
Dr. Leo Semashko,
The Key to the Environmental Crisis
Is Beneath Our Feet
The Green New Deal resolution that was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives in February hit a wall in the Senate, where it was called unrealistic and unaffordable. In a Washington Post article titled УThe Green New Deal Sets Us Up for Failure. We Need a Better Approach,Ф former Colorado governor and Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper framed the problem like this:
The resolution sets unachievable goals. We do not yet have the technology needed to reach Уnet-zero greenhouse gas emissionsФ in 10 years. ThatТs why many wind and solar companies donТt support it. There is no clean substitute for jet fuel. Electric vehicles are growing quickly, yet are still in their infancy. Manufacturing industries such as steel and chemicals, which account for almost as much carbon emissions as transportation, are even harder to decarbonize.
Amid this technological innovation, we need to ensure that energy is not only clean but also affordable. Millions of Americans struggle with Уenergy poverty.Ф Too often, low-income Americans must choose between paying for medicine and having their heat shut off. Е
If climate change policy becomes synonymous in the U.S. psyche with higher utility bills, rising taxes and lost jobs, we will have missed our shot.
The problem may be that a transition to 100% renewables is the wrong target. Reversing climate change need not mean emptying our pockets and tightening our belts. It is possible to sequester carbon and restore our collapsing ecosystem using the financial resources we already have, and it can be done while at the same time improving the quality of our food, water, air and general health.
The Larger Problem Ц and the Solution Ц Is in the Soil
Contrary to popular belief, the biggest environmental polluters are not big fossil fuel companies. They are big agribusiness and factory farming, with six powerful food industry giants Ц Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Dean Foods, Dow AgroSciences, Tyson and Monsanto (now merged with Bayer) Ц playing a major role. Oil-dependent farming, industrial livestock operations, the clearing of carbon-storing fields and forests, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the combustion of fuel to process and distribute food are estimated to be responsible for as much as one-half of human-caused pollution. Climate change, while partly a consequence of the excessive relocation of carbon and other elements from the earth into the atmosphere, is more fundamentally just one symptom of overall ecosystem distress from centuries of over-tilling, over-grazing, over-burning, over-hunting, over-fishing and deforestation.
Big AgТs toxin-laden, nutrient-poor food is also a major contributor to the U.S. obesity epidemic and many other diseases. Yet these are the industries getting the largest subsidies from U.S. taxpayers, to the tune of more than $20 billion annually. We donТt hear about this for the same reason that they get the subsidies Ц they have massively funded lobbies capable of bribing their way into special treatment.
The story we do hear, as Judith Schwartz observes in The Guardian, is, УClimate change is global warming caused by too much CO2 in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels. We stop climate change by making the transition to renewable energy.Ф Schwartz does not discount this part of the story but points to several problems with it:
One is the uncomfortable fact that even if, by some miracle, we could immediately cut emissions to zero, due to inertia in the system it would take more than a century for CO2 levels to drop to 350 parts per million, which is considered the safe threshold. Plus, hereТs what we donТt talk about when we talk about climate: we can all go solar and drive electric cars and still have the problems Ц the unprecedented heat waves, the wacky weather Ц that we now associate with CO2-driven climate change.
But that hasnТt stopped investors, who see the climate crisis as simply another profit opportunity. According to a study by Morgan Stanley analysts reported in Forbes in October, halting global warming and reducing net carbon emissions to zero would take an investment of $50 trillion over the next three decades, including $14 trillion for renewables; $11 trillion to build the factories, batteries and infrastructure necessary for a widespread switch to electric vehicles; $2.5 trillion for carbon capture and storage; $20 trillion to provide clean hydrogen fuel for power, cars and other industries, and $2.7 trillion for biofuels. The article goes on to highlight the investment opportunities presented by these challenges by recommending various big companies expected to lead the transition, including Exxon, Chevron, BP, General Electric, Shell and similar corporate giants Ц many of them the very companies blamed by Green New Deal advocates for the crisis.
A Truly Green New Deal
There is a much cheaper and faster way to sequester carbon from the atmosphere that doesnТt rely on these corporate giants to transition us to 100% renewables. Additionally, it can be done while at the same time reducing the chronic diseases that impose an even heavier cost on citizens and governments. Our most powerful partner is nature itself, which over hundreds of millions of years has evolved the most efficient carbon sequestration system on the planet. As David Perry writes on the World Economic Forum website:
This solution leverages a natural process that every plant undergoes, powered by a source that is always available, costs little to nothing to run and does not cause further pollution. This power source is the sun, and the process is photosynthesis.
A plant takes carbon dioxide out of the air and, with the help of sunlight and water, converts it to sugars. Every bit of that plant Ц stems, leaves, roots Ц is made from carbon that was once in our atmosphere. Some of this carbon goes into the soil as roots. The roots, then, release sugars to feed soil microbes. These microbes perform their own chemical processes to convert carbon into even more stable forms.
Perry observes that before farmland was cultivated, it had soil carbon levels of from 3% to 7%. Today, those levels are roughly 1% carbon. If every acre of farmland globally were returned to a soil carbon level of just 3%, 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide would be removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil Ц equal to the amount of carbon that has been drawn into the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. The size of the potential solution matches the size of the problem.
So how can we increase the carbon content of soil? Through УregenerativeФ farming practices, says Perry, including planting cover crops, no-till farming, rotating crops, reducing chemicals and fertilizers, and managed grazing (combining trees, forage plants and livestock together as an integrated system, a technique called УsilvopastureФ). These practices have been demonstrated to drive carbon into the soil and keep it there, resulting in carbon-enriched soils that are healthier and more resilient to extreme weather conditions and show improved water permeability, preventing the rainwater runoff that contributes to rising sea levels and rising temperatures. Evaporation from degraded, exposed soil has been shown to cause 1,600% more heat annually than all the worldТs powerhouses combined. Regenerative farming methods also produce increased microbial diversity, higher yields, reduced input requirements, more nutritious harvests and increased farm profits.
These highly favorable results were confirmed by Paul Hawken and his team in the project that was the subject of his best-selling 2016 book, УDrawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.Ф The project involved evaluating the 100 most promising solutions to the environmental crisis for cost and effectiveness. The results surprised the researchers themselves. The best-performing sector was not УTransportФ or УMaterialsФ or УBuildings and CitiesФ or even УElectricity Generation.Ф It was the sector called УFood,Ф including how we grow our food, market it and use it. Of the top 30 solutions, 12 were various forms of regenerative agriculture, including silvopasture, tropical staple trees, conservation agriculture, tree intercropping, managed grazing, farmland restoration and multistrata agroforestry.
How to Fund It All
If regenerative farming increases farmersТ bottom lines, why arenТt they already doing it? For one thing, the benefits of the approach are not well known. But even if they were, farmers would have a hard time making the switch. As noted in a Rolling Stone article titled УHow Big Agriculture Is Preventing Farmers From Combating the Climate CrisisФ:
[I]implementing these practices requires an economic flexibility most farmers donТt have, and which is almost impossible to achieve within a government-backed system designed to preserve a large-scale, corporate-farming monoculture based around commodity crops like corn and soybeans, which often cost smaller farmers more money to grow than they can make selling.
Farmers are locked into a system that is destroying their farmlands and the planet, because a handful of giant agribusinesses have captured Congress and the regulators. one proposed solution is to transfer the $20 billion in subsidies that now go mainly to Big Ag into a fund to compensate small farmers who transition to regenerative practices. We also need to enforce the antitrust laws and break up the biggest agribusinesses, something for which legislation is now pending in Congress.
At the grassroots level, we can vote with our pocketbooks by demanding truly nutritious foods. New technology is in development that can help with this grassroots approach by validating how nutrient-dense our foods really are. one such device, developed by Dan Kittredge and team, is a hand-held consumer spectrometer called a Bionutrient Meter, which tests nutrient density at point of purchase. The goal is to bring transparency to the marketplace, empowering consumers to choose their foods based on demonstrated nutrient quality, providing economic incentives to growers and grocers to drive regenerative practices across the system. Other new technology measures nutrient density in the soil, allowing farmers to be compensated in proportion to their verified success in carbon sequestration and soil regeneration.
Granted, $20 billion is unlikely to be enough to finance the critically needed transition from destructive to regenerative agriculture, but Congress can supplement this fund by tapping the deep pocket of the central bank. In the last decade, the Fed has demonstrated that its pool of financial liquidity is potentially limitless, but the chief beneficiaries of its largess have been big banks and their wealthy clients. We need a form of quantitative easing that actually serves the local productive economy. That might require modifying the Federal Reserve Act, but Congress has modified it before. The only real limit on new money creation is consumer price inflation, and there is room for a great deal more money to be pumped into the productive local economy before that ceiling is hit than is circulating in it now. For a detailed analysis of this issue, see my earlier articles here and here and latest book, УBanking on the People.Ф
The bottom line is that saving the planet from environmental destruction is not only achievable, but that by focusing on regenerative agriculture and tapping up the central bank for funding, the climate crisis can be addressed without raising taxes and while restoring our collective health.
Web of Debt