Public Banking Movement And Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

February 1, 2015

(Cross-posted from publicbankinginstitute.org)

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Is The Trans-Pacific Partnership A Danger To Public Banks?

posted by  
January 29, 2015

Many people fear that secretive trade talks with corporate lobbyists may prohibit public rights to control common assets.

The United States Congress is very close to granting President Obama the authority to “fast track” negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal largely negotiated in secret that could have profound implications on financial, labor, and environmental standards in the United States. Democracy Now! reports:

The top U.S. trade official has told lawmakers the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal could be wrapped up within months and urged Congress to give the White House fast-track authority to approve the deal. Protesters with the group Flush the Trans-Pacific Partnership repeatedly interrupted U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman’s testimony before Congress. The protesters — Dr. Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese and retired steelworker Richard Ochs — were all arrested after being removed from the hearing.

And, according to Barbara Chicherio, writing last year in Nation of Change:

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique.  If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.

For at least the last two years, since activists have been expressing concern about the TPP, many commentators have speculated that the agreement poses an immediate, long-term threat to publicly owned banks like the Bank of North Dakota. The rationale for this concern is that public banks are “state-owned enterprises” that are seen as a barrier to private profits—something against which the TPP would throw considerable barriers. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup,” warning:

    No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect it . . . .

If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued . . . .

The suspicion that publicly owned entities would be targeted by the TPP, and that public banks would be included in that targeting, is most notably detailed in a March 2013 analysis by Sam Knight, who describes trade lobbyists as specifically concerned with the “preferential financing” afforded to public services—possibly (though not decisively) services like those financed by the BND. According to Knight,

Publicly owned enterprises, for example, are being targeted by negotiators. One such entity in the United States that has been the subject of considerable interest in recent years is the Bank of North Dakota (BND) – the only fully publicly owned financial institution in the country. The BND, which is only allowed to lend wholesale, was a stabilizing force that helped keep the already energy-rich state insulated from the shock of the financial crisis (Alaska, for example, didn’t fare as well). It has also brought a small fortune to the state’s treasury – $340 million in net tax gain between 1997 and 2009. Legislators in at least 13 different states have proposed studying or emulating the North Dakota model – state-owned development of central-bank style institutions guaranteed by tax revenue. But if the TPP is passed, that option might not be available. Weisel said that State Owned Enterprises (SOE) are routinely “competing directly with private enterprises, and often in a way that is considered unfair.”

“Some of the advantages that can be conferred on State Owned Enterprises are things like preferential financing,” [trade lobbyist] Weisel said. “Those are things that wouldn’t be provided to private companies – preferential provision of goods and services provided by a government.”

She said that “State Owned Enterprises – which in some cases can comprise a significant percentage of an economy – can be used to undermine what we’re otherwise trying to gain from this free trade agreement.”

A spokesperson for the BND declined to comment on whether or not this outlook was perceived by the bank to be an institutional threat. But, depending on the report’s language, foreign bankers could claim that the BND stops them from lending to commercial banks throughout the state.

These concerns led Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers to conclude:

These same provisions about state-owned enterprises will affect public banking too. North Dakota is the only state in the US to have a public state bank, although over a dozen states and cities are considering them. Public banks are used to hold taxes that are collected, administer payroll for public employees and provide loans for public projects. The advantage is that all public dollars are managed in a public institution rather than having to pay fees and interest to a private bank. But the TPP would consider public banks to have unfair advantages and therefore violate free trade.

The greatest indication that the TPP threatens to stymie or eliminate public banks comes from trade lobbyist Michael Wendell’s testimony to the Congressional Subcommittee on Trade:

SOEs [state-owned enterprises], by definition, are interested in promoting the interests of their home country, and are all too often guided by state interests, rather than commercial interests. Why does this matter? Let’s consider a Chinese SOE. Chinese SOEs benefit enormously from below-market-rate financing by state-owned banks at rates well below what American companies pay. Many of these loans may not have to be repaid at all. How does a commercial entity here in the U.S. compete with the U.S.-based operations of an SOE that sets up shop here? . . . There are many ways that disciplines on SOEs can be developed as part of the TPP talks. The best approach would be to ensure that all transactions are based on commercial considerations.

There is certainly no question about whether TPP advocates are eager to target, penalize, and discourage public entities. Even “liberal” American commentators take a negative view of state-owned enterprises, particularly government management of banking assets. Writing for the Center for American Progress, Sabina Dewan argues:

A number of Trans-Pacific Partnership participants—among them Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore—manage their economies through a state-capitalist model in which the government directly or indirectly controls many of the economy’s productive assets, formal financial systems, and activities. These enterprises participate in commercial markets but enjoy state backing. They benefit from preferred access to bank capital, below-market-rate financing, favorable tax treatment, capital injections, and other advantages that distort the playing field and put American firms and workers at a competitive disadvantage.

Similarly, in his analysis of the TPP, the Brookings Institute’s Joshua Meltzer perpetuates the assumption that there is an inevitable “trade distorting impact” when public entities “do not [operate] according to competitive market-based principles.”

Making what, to me, appears to be a typical recommendation, the decidedly anti-“statist” Dewan says that U.S. negotiators “should insist that state-owned enterprises be evaluated under the agreement as if they were operating solely according to commercial considerations.” Of course, we know that public banks may well have mission statements in their charters that mandate operations for the sake of non-commercial considerations. Given this divide, it’s easy to understand why many commentators are worried that public banks would be targeted by the TPP.

It is language and assumptions such as these that lead commentators like Les Leopold to worry that, under the TPP,

Depending on the final language, it is possible that the activities of the Bank of North Dakota could be ruled illegal because “foreign bankers could claim the BND stops them from lending to commercial banks throughout the state” . . .

The assumption that state-run financial operations “distort” the free market, of course, ignores the fact that governments, including and especially the United States, currently prop up big banks to the tune of trillions of dollars, utilizing both bail-outs and, now, bail-ins, intervening at almost every stage of the game, and not necessarily in ways that are conducive to the interests of the majority.

Such assumptions ignore an important distinction made by Ellen Brown in The Public Bank Solution: the distinction between government ownership of the means of production (also known as socialism), and the philosophy of public banking:

. . . government oversight of the system of credits and debits that undergirds a functioning economy, ensuring that the system operates effectively, fairly, securely, and to the benefit of all. Banking, money, and credit are not market goods but are economic infrastructure, just as roads and bridges are physical infrastructure. Banking and credit need to be public utilities for a capitalist market economy to run properly. By providing inexpensive, accessible financing to the free enterprise sector of the economy, public banks make commerce more vital and stable. (The Public Bank Solution, p. 3)

So the real question is whether TPP negotiators and interpreters will see banking more as a market good, or more like a road or bridge (since it is unlikely that public infrastructure such as roads and bridges will fall under critical scrutiny in the regime of TPP trade complaints). Those opposing the TPP believe that nothing in the history or trajectory of America’s big bank-driven policy making suggests that trade representatives would interpret banking as a utility; after all, the very reason that we don’t have more public banks in the United States is precisely that banking is seen as a profit-making venture rather than a utility.

All of this is speculative, though, because the TPP is being negotiated almost entirely under a shroud of secrecy—and this uncertainty doesn’t make anyone concerned about the TPP’s effects feel any better about possible outcomes.

In the end, then, we will not know what the impact of the TPP will be on the BND and other potential public banks in the United States until long after it is negotiated. Given the tendency of trade negotiators to view banks as profit-making businesses, and to argue that state-owned enterprises should be evaluated through the criteria of pure “commercial considerations,” there is understandable suspicion that passage of the TPP will significantly complicate the implementation and existence of public banks.

It wouldn’t be the first time that public banks were challenged, though, nor would it be the only international agreement-based challenge to public banking: As Ellen Brown outlines in The Public Bank Solution, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision created new global rules (called Basel III) raising the mandatory reserves banks are required to hold, ostensibly to avoid another 2008-style crisis. As Greg Keller and Frank Jordans argued at the time, the rules are a threat not only to community banks, but also public sector banks.

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Would Ending Private Control Of Money Creation Improve Everything?

Posted on December 3, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-14Alphabet According to Ken O’Keefe and a growing number of men and women around the Earth, the answer is yes. Mr. O’Keefe, at The 2nd International Conference of Independent Thinkers in Tehran a few weeks ago, said that taking the massive power held now in the United States, Europe and many other nations by a very small number of private, extremely wealthy individuals and transferring that power to the people in the form of a monetary public utility would change everything on Earth – for the better – in a day.

The United States government issues 3% of the money supply in the form of coins. The remaining 97%, in the form of paper currency, becomes created by private interests through the Federal Reserve system and privately owned banks – out of thin air, by typing some numbers into a computer screen. Quite simply, such a profoundly large power in the control of a very small number of ultra-wealthy global élite must end before there is any chance whatsoever to successfully defeat centuries-old problems faced by humanity like starvation, wars, homelessness, disease, environmental degradation, wealth inequality, species extinction and more.

In a recent post we shared a video of British MP Michael Meacher speaking during a historic debate on just this issue – monetary reform – inside the British Parliament, including pro-monetary reform speeches made by both conservative and liberal MPs. Just as governments in Sweden, Britain, Ireland, Spain – and now France – have made strong statements recognizing a Palestinian state recently, the world is evolving in such an accelerated manner that monetary reform will soon become just as publicized as the people of the world rapidly grow in awareness of what is really happening, and take the actions which lead to corrections of unjust, immoral, extremely harmful events and conditions.

Let us be thankful that the world’s people are acting to finally correct the decades-long injustice experienced by the Palestinian people. Give thanks as well that men and women in every nation and region are finally acting to correct the way money has historically become created – at least since 1913 and establishment of the Federal Reserve banking system in the United States – under private control, which has been a massive societal failure responsible for the tragic cycles of global economic booms and busts – and every war.

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(Thank you to Ken O’Keefe at YouTube)

Global Monetary Reform Momentum Growing.

Posted on August 13, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-42The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement grew from a widespread feeling that corruption had reached intolerable levels in America’s banking system. For good reasons. Since 2008 and the fall of the world economy generated by unaccountable, extremely risky, casino-gambling by high-rolling banksters on Wall Street, those men and women involved in OWS, and like-minded people in nations around the Earth who’ve felt the same negative economic consequences, have learned about, organized, and taken action on monetary/public banking/economic alternatives.

The number of men and women who’ve since 2008 become knowledgeable about the Federal Reserve, fractional reserve banking, and privately owned central banks like the Fed, World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB), Bank for International Settlements (BIS) etc. has risen steadily as more articles and videos have become written, produced, and widely shared. Corporate media, with intimate connections to the international private central banks’ networks has produced little to nothing in the way of reporting, but the internet has exploded with communications on alternative banking and economics.

In around six years, the growing awareness on monetary issues and banking reforms has resulted in the BRICS alliance of nations’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) creating the New Development Bank, marking the first time in history that the Fed, WB, IMF, ECB, and BIS will have to compete for international banking business. As more and more people have become aware of private central banks’ history and monopolistic grip on the world’s people and countries, leading many nations to severely cut budgets due to harsh austerity measures from great debt, those nations of the so-called South who’ve experienced the worst debt problems have chosen to go in another direction through BRICS.

Those who are the largest shareholders in the private central banking cartel are the kind of people who don’t really appreciate transparency or publicity when it comes to their profoundly fortunate wealth positions. Although the number of men and women who’ve come to understand the secretive, private ownership aspect of the world’s central banks – as well as the staggering money power which has been in the hands of the banking cartel owners – has grown dramatically, there are still many who have not. Thankfully, this is rapidly changing.

More people in America have come to learn the Federal Reserve is not a public institution any more than Federal Express is a public institution. Those same people have come to learn that America’s original citizens fought the British over who would control the creation and quantity of money in the new nation, and that the struggle over private vs. public control of the U.S. monetary system has occurred from the beginning of America until now in 2014.

Although tremendous power still resides with those who own the private central banks of the world, a shift beginning in 2008 and the global economic collapse has gained momentum, spurred on by greater public awareness, resentment at the virtual non-prosecution of criminals wearing white designer shirts, and perhaps the greatest wealth inequality in the history of mankind. World-shaking revelations have come to light such as 85 individuals possessing as much wealth as the world’s bottom 3.5 billions, a multi-trillion dollar, multi-location tax haven/evasion industry – directly operated by the world’s largest and most powerful accounting, legal, and banking entities for decades without a peep from in-the-know, highest level government officials, and many more.

Recent events in Germany and the “Monday Demonstration” movement, drawing large crowds in cities across Germany and surrounding nations, have been instrumental in raising awareness of the world’s banking cartel monopolies and how monetary reform of a historic nature will offer better results than history up until now has recorded. For those with eyes to see, beneficial/good changes are occurring for humanity – with many more positive developments on the horizon – and the momentum now is unstoppable.

To those private central bank owners who share the awareness and understanding of great changes coming for their historically monopolistic businesses, do not over-react to new and better ways of conducting state, national, and international finance. To be completely specific, do not resort to unnecessary, harmful economic sanctions or unneeded, human-soul-shattering war, killing, and destruction with the idea these negative actions can prevent the good changes from becoming reality.

Instead, change the way you look at the people sharing this Earth with you, resolve to peacefully work to improve the lives of all as much as humanly possible, then simultaneously work on improving the lives of men, women, and children who shall walk the Earth seven generations from now.

The United States probably won’t be joining the BRICS group of nations’ New Development Bank any time soon, but a movement toward public banking based on the state-owned Bank of North Dakota model is receiving enthusiastic support in around 40 states.

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Executive Director of The Public Banking Institute Gwen Hallsmith talks to Grit TV’s Laura Flanders about the state of public banking in America.

Learn more at: publicbankinginstitute.org

(Thank you to gritTV at YouTube)

Goodbye Karen Hudes, Hello Bill Still.

Posted April 30, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“A man’s judgment cannot be better than the information on which he has based it. Give him no news or present him only with distorted and incomplete data, with ignorant, sloppy or biased reporting, with propaganda and deliberate falsehoods, and you destroy his whole reasoning process and make him something less than a man.”

– Arthur Hays Sulzberger (1891-1968) Publisher, New York Times

abstract4-1Is it a big deal or not? Disappointment experienced after becoming aware that what one thought about another isn’t quite right is a hard thing to deal with. This blog has posted three interviews of Karen Hudes – a woman known as the “World Bank Whistleblower” –  since its inception in late May 2013. Ms. Hudes has appeared on many interview programs in the past few years, while many have come to view her as a “hero” for her fearless speech directed at the super-rich and powerful. This writer admits having an initial fascination with her, because her early accounts seemed to prove that she was a genuine and important whistleblower.

That fascination led to a willingness to stay tuned to her as time moved along, and intermittent listening to most recent interviews etc. Unfortunately that initial fascination has turned to disappointment, and the deleting of her posted interviews and web address. This personal transition in perceptions of Ms. Hudes was a slow one, and finally second thoughts and a few analytical questions made the break from Karen Hudes inevitable.

The first question that created doubt about her was “why has she never appeared on any panel discussions with monetary reform activists, attorney colleagues, and/or economics professors?” So, one looks at her public persona and finds that her appearances – including RT, but mostly internet radio/alternative news – are never ones where she engages in group discussions. She always appears alone with a lone interviewer.

Perhaps because she is an Ivy-league trained attorney with a degree from Yale, along with her study of economics in Europe, it became clear that interviewers were somewhat intimidated with her credentials, including her 20 years in the World Bank. As time went by, it became perceived that, because of that constant credential-intimidation, interviewers were derelict in their duty to dig deeper into Ms. Hudes’ claims. All along, with each of her hundreds of interviews, no host has asked the type of penetrating, intellectual questions which would force Ms. Hudes to prove her assertions.

Her talks have been a mixture of well-established facts and theories yet to become proven.

With regard to the unproven assertions, Ms. Hudes consistently mentions a German banker/lawyer by the name of Wolfgang Struck, who she claims has “signatory authority” somehow inherited from Philippines Dictator Ferdinand Marcos – an authority to sign for the release of the world’s entire gold supply. Visiting Ms. Hudes’ YouTube channel one finds she has three videos posted, none of which have become enriched by any appearance of Mr. Struck, the man who is, according to Ms. Hudes, just waiting patiently, in anxious anticipation, to sign off and release to humanity the hundreds of thousands of ounces of gold stashed in Switzerland banks, Philippines banks, and Hawaiian banks, while God only knows how many thousands more ounces were buried someplace in the Philippines.

Wolfgang Struck. The Karen Hudes mystery man.

If any reader has ever seen Mr. Struck speak on camera, or seen any photos of him, or heard him speak on a radio program – if you have any evidence of this “World’s Gold Controller” – please share your information. Most readers are familiar with an American union boss by the name of Jimmy Hoffa who mysteriously disappeared decades ago after last being seen in the Detroit, Michigan area – and never seen again. If by chance, Ms. Hudes, you come to these words, please answer this question, “Is Wolfgang Struck your version of Jimmy Hoffa?”

Ms. Hudes appeared on the scene some three or more years ago, yet has anyone seen her give an academic-like presentation? Has she ever been seen in front of a live audience? Has she ever collaborated with her fellow whistleblowers around the world in a Skype conference call of two hours or longer in duration, where her “team of whistleblowers” discuss specific actions to bring into reality their shared goals?

Just a few moments on the uneventful way I made the decision to separate from Karen Hudes. The son of Academy-award winning filmmaker Oliver Stone – Sean Stone – was spoken about by another talk show host. Without knowing that Ms. Hudes had been interviewed by him, I went to see what was happening lately on his (Sean Stone’s) “Buzzsaw” show. So, Ms. Hudes was appearing and I listened to it. The show began with talk about a so-called “secret constitution” of 1872, where the name of the original became changed from “Constitution of the United States” to “Constitution for the United States”, allegedly making the United States and each of the 50 states corporations.

Sean Stone:    “In 1871, the Constitution of the United States was changed, from the original constitution we all believe we live under, giving us certain rights and laws, and that was changed from the Constitution of the U.S. to the Constitution for the U.S., as a corporation. And that happened in 1871. Can you get into a little more detail as to what actually occurred at that point?”

Karen Hudes:    “Yes Sean, thanks for having me back, and that’s exactly what happened. In 1872, Benjamin Franklin went to Paris and was negotiating with the banks that were helping to finance the Revolutionary War, and, uh, so when the money came due and we couldn’t pay it, this was after the Civil War, which by the way was incited by the Jesuits, at the end of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln had issued greenbacks that were not going to carry interest to the bankers, he was assassinated by the Jesuits, and after they had taken care of that business, what they did was they set up this secret constitution, and under that constitution the U.S. Congress became managers of a corporation in the District of Columbia. The states were also turned into corporations, and this allowed the money that was being generated to go to the bankers to pay interest. The money went to the City of London which kept about 40% of it, and then it went off, 60% roughly, went off to the Vatican, the Jesuits, whose bankers were financing the United States. The Federal Reserve is for taking taxpayer money and transmitting it to the City of London and the Vatican.”

Ms. Hudes error of starting the interview by saying, “in 1872, Ben Franklin went to Paris” drew some not small notice from viewers in the comments section – Ben Franklin died in 1790. In the moments after she spoke that historical error, it seems Ms. Hudes has, in her legally trained mind, acknowledged to herself that she had made the date error. Evidence of this shows up/is seen at her first “uh”, where in her mind she comes to realize her mistake. But, instead of sensibly and properly issuing an immediate correction: “Did I say 1872, Sean? I meant 1782”, she makes sure to, a few words down the road, to squeeze in “this was after the Civil War, which by the way was incited by the Jesuits”.

Later on she tells Sean Stone that Franklin negotiated British/European financing for 100 years, resulting in the 1872 default by the American government and necessitating the “secret, second Constitution”.

Bill Still is a man who has researched, written, and produced documentary films on monetary reform for 34 years. He also listened to the talk, then commented on the Stone/Hudes interview: “Ben Franklin died in 1790. That’s all you have to know about Karen Hudes.”

Unfortunately it needs saying but, because of a great respect for Oliver Stone and a wish for his son’s success, Sean Stone allows Ms. Hudes to fill in the half-hour interview without pressing her with probative, get-to-the-essential-facts/proof of her claims questions – an all too universal interviewer style in every Karen Hudes appearance. Simply, no interviewer that I know of has ever directly challenged her to go any deeper, with requests for detailed and complex specifics to prove her – well – unproven claims.

The final straw came after listening to the Stone/Hudes interview when I listened to her on another show. Some internet surfers may have an awareness of these elongated human skulls that the Smithsonian evidently has in their safekeeping. Karen Hudes claims that there is a second human-type race/species walking this Earth, and that they are the “real World power behind the scenes”, essentially pulling the strings of the Jesuits and the Vatican. She gave her proof as coming from a Peruvian man who emailed her that he had seen one of these elongated-head species – “Homo Copensis” (or something) – inside a Peruvian bank while attending a personal loan-related meeting.

No photos, no nothing.

A search at Amazon books failed to find any authored by Karen Hudes.

The questions about who or what is behind or sponsoring her are in need of answers.

Probably the most disappointing aspect of all is that so many fine men and women journalists/alternative media hosts will now have to admit what has been confessed here. Karen Hudes took a lot of people on a long ride to nowhere. While disappointing for many who placed their hopes on her, probably the most descriptive word is saddening. One feels deep sadness for both her followers/believers and Karen Hudes herself.

Let’s hope Wolfgang Struck is happy in Peru.

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That was not pleasant.

Reason for optimism, though.

Bill Still’s latest report goes into some important writings by a world-respected economist about monetary reform. In an April 24, 2014 article by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times, Mr. Wolf – according to Bill Still, a man who “when Martin Wolf speaks, the world’s economists listen” –  suggested the potential of major reform in the way money is created. For monetary reform activists like Mr. Still, Ellen Brown, and others, this development is very large and analogous to an historic scientific breakthrough that promises to change the world.

One has to feel good for Bill Still. Here’s a man who has had his nose to the grindstone researching monetary issues for some 34 years. He’s been like a voice crying out in the wilderness, like the man who has been crying wolf – except that the wolf has been real. He can take some satisfaction that his efforts may finally be paying off, that his very important work making films and writing for over three decades is finally producing fruit.

Visit Bill Still’s website at billstill.com

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From “Desiderata”:

“Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

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