Why would regulators dangerously jeopardize state and local government budgets in this way? Skeptical observers speculate that the intent is to Detroit-ize municipal governments, so that assets can be stripped as is being done in that imperiled city. The international bankers got away with asset-stripping Greece. Why not make the US itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of private banking interests?

If that seems far-fetched, consider what is happening with Argentina, which has been forced into bankruptcy by a US court to satisfy the exaggerated claims of certain hold-out vulture funds. IMF regulators have discussed establishing an international bankruptcy court that could strip a country such as Argentina of its assets, including prime sections of real estate, to pay off the nation’s creditors.

In the US, there is already a trend to force state and municipal governments into austerity measures, if not outright bankruptcy, in order to eliminate labor unions, pension obligations and social services. Bankruptcies can be involuntary, forced by the creditors who caused them. Detroit is the US model. Michigan’s Constitution protects pensions, so the emergency manager appointed by the governor could not unilaterally cut those funds. But in a municipal bankruptcy, a judge would decide the fate of city workers’ pensions, making it an attractive option for banking interests. The oligarchs have long had their eyes on the massive sums represented by the pension funds.

Public Banks to the Rescue?

Whatever the explanation for the Fed’s game-changing move, the vulnerability of state and local governments to unpredictable and unaccountable federal regulators is another strong argument in favor of forming publicly-owned banks. Why be under the thumb of an erratic privately-owned central bank manipulated by Wall Street megabanks now caught in multiple frauds?

Like Eurozone countries, US states cannot print their own currencies. But unlike Eurozone countries, they can borrow from their own public banks, which can create money as credit on their books just as private banks do.

At least, they could if they had their own banks. Only one state – North Dakota – has currently taken advantage of that option. North Dakota is also the only state to have escaped the 2008 credit crisis, sporting a budget surplus every year since then. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest default rate on credit card debt, and one of the lowest foreclosure rates.

True, North Dakota also has oil. But the 2008 crisis happened before oil and gas had made a significant impact on state revenues; and the state was posting a budget surplus all during that period. Other oil and gas states are not doing so well.

Globally, 40% of banks are publicly owned; and they are largely in the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China. These countries also escaped the credit crisis largely unscathed.

If state and municipal governments want to protect themselves from the fate of Greece and Detroit, they would do well to follow North Dakota’s lead and form their own publicly-owned banks. And time is of the essence, if they hope to beat the rush before the first US Cyprus-style bail-in consumes the collateral that local governments are counting on to protect their multi-billions in deposits.

Ellen Brown
President of the Public Banking Institute
And Author
Web of Debt