Without equality, there is no freedom. Without sovereignty we are nameless. Without some real control over our destinies, are we not just slaves? The Irish people love sport. Croke Park on All Ireland day is an unmatched experience. Everyone remembers Italy 1990, and the whole nation takes some spark of pride from Ireland’s great win over Wales. The Irish nation endures and can triumph against the odds.
Money and banking go hand in hand. Money is essential. But we must question what money is and how our money system works. We need banks we can trust that serve society's needs. We might begin by asking how and why in so many countries privately banks enjoy exclusive rights to issue the more than 95% of the money in circulation as debt, and to charge interest on it. We pay handsomely for the privilege we grant them, a sort of double ‘’own goal”. We the people have given to the private banking system our sovereign right to create (and selectively allocate) the nations money, as credit. And yet we pay banks interest for doing what the sovereign nation can freely do for itself.
Interest accounts for a substantial part of the cost of everything we buy, and not just of the cost of our homes, cars and credit card purchases. The sum total of Ireland's national, household and corporate debt is more than three times our annual national economic output. The total cost of interest on Irish debt is comparable to the total tax revenue of the state, which was about €34Bn in 2013.
Public Banks can help level the playing field. Publicly owned banks operate along commercial lines to maximise sustainable local or regional lending. The interest and surpus generated are used to build equity and invested in their local economy. Public banks reduce our dependence on the so called pillar banks- the banks that became too big to fail. In Germany the public Savings Bank network is more than 100 years old and plays a key role in the economy and financial system. These public banks have proven robust and resilient in the aftermath of the financial crisis when other banks had to greatly reduce their lending to households and businesses. In Ireland the state-owned An Post Savings Bank, the Credit Unions and mutual Building Societies each have some features of public banks. These are robust pillars of our financial system. These are the institutions which could now help restore the Irish banking landscape. They could establish a single national, or several regional Public Banks of a type the Irish people need and want. Could An Post be more pro-active in addressing our banking needs and the available market opportunities? And is it fair that half of our Credit Unions may disappear in coming years under pressure for consolidation and heavily burdened by new regulations.? Perhaps these questions ought be of public concern.
A briefing by The Public Banking Forum of Ireland. PBFI - Feb. 2014
Most people are unaware there is a much better alternative readily available:
Public banks are transparent and accountable institutions in which speculation is prohibited. They are very successful in many parts of the world, from Brazil to China and are a key to economic resilience, financial inclusion and prosperity. Germany is arguably Europes leading economy and boasts of 64% publicly owned banks, and in excess of 2000 independent banks: In Ireland and in England a mere handful of private banks predominate. If Ireland is to have a better future then we must end our complete dependence on private commercial banks and unstable cycles of credit boom and bust.
Public banking provides society with a means to create a more inclusive and stable future economy, less prone to boom bust cycles, and where large corporations cannot dictate banking or economic policies to political puppets.
The Lisbon treaty:
Article 123 of the Lisbon treaty offers two significant advantages to countries that have Public Banks: it provides for “publicly owned financial institutions” (Public Banks)... to loan the public's savings to the government at low or zero interest rate. The Public Banks can also borrow from the markets at the same low interest rates as private banks. This rate is currently 0.25% while our government is paying over 4% in the markets.This creates the option for Publicly Owned Banks to fund local and state projects at the lowest possible interest rates. State borrowings from private banks and institutions could be greatly reduced. That would help reduce taxes and provide for better public services.
Add to thisthe potential public gain from extending Postal Savings Bank services, which could finance public capital through bond issues to savers, again serving to reduce government debt to private institutions. It adds up to an enormous potential 'win-win' for the Irish public!
What our current banking system holds in store for us:
Former banker Mr. Peter MatthewsTD has said that hundreds of thousands of Irish debtors had become in effect "financial galley slaves". The insightful independent TD has estimated the Irish banking system may need some €53bn* in funding to deal with household and SME debt. (*Source; Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor, Independent.ie;Feb. 2014)
Ireland is a member of the so-called Eurozone and our currency is under the full control of the ECB. The many banking scandals of the past 10 years and the massive cost of €63bn incurred by taxpayers to bail out our private banks arguably demonstrate the need to review our membership of the common currency.
The Public Banking Forum in Ireland and Sensible Money (UK) call for the creation of 'debt-free money' by the state to reduce or end our dependence on private banks for creating 95% of our money supply as “debt”and their effective control of our economy. This “debt-free money” would be created by an independent, democratic and transparent body working in the public interest. This debt-free money would be spent into the economy by government.
This is part of the solution for Ireland advocated by Dr. Ellen Brown of the US Public Banking Institute. A leading proponent of public banks worldwide, Dr Ellen Brown is author of Web of Debt and addressed PBFI seminars in Dublin, Cork and Athlone in 2013 (htp:www publicbanking.org). Dr Brown and others highlight the fact that debt-free money has a far higher multiplier effect than debt-based money. The multiplier effect reflects the far greater potency of debt-free money in generating economic growth.
Christopher Simpsons is CEO of an international engineering consultacy. His CIVITAS organisation commissioned an in-depth study of the German Public Savings Bank System; The SPARKASSEN highlights its appropriateness to the UK economy. He will speak in Ireland at the PBFI Seminar, on 27 Feb next, along with Dr. Keidel.
Dr Thomas Keidel is Director for Financial Market Relations for the network organistaion of Germany's SPARKASSEN Public Savings Banks.
Developing Ireland's Public Bank
The PBFI is seeking out the best experts with the aim of developing the best model of public bank for Ireland. It ought be free of political control and influence. It must lend responsibly and be accountable to stakeholders, and financially inclusive.There are several models of public banking working throughout the world. To date PBFI has found the German Sparkassen or savings bank model especially relevant to Irish needs. Japan has the Post Bank. In the US the Bank of North Dakota is the best example and a model could be applicable in Ireland. In China and some other countries almost all banks are public/state-owned.
PBFI is engaged in research, consulting relevant experts and collaborating to help develop and promote the optimal public bank model for Ireland. We are firmly of the view that a public bank can better respond to the needs and wants of Irish households and small businesses. Far from posing a threat to existing institutions an Irish public bank (or area-based public banks) can help restore our blighted banking landscape and help safeguard Irelands economic and financial systems in challenging times.
Last October the PBFI brought Dr Ellen Brown to Ireland where she shared with us her vast knowledge of Public Banking. Our forthcoming seminar on 27 Feb. will see Dr Keidel and Christopher Simpson share their knowledge with us. The PBFI believes that the GERMAN SPARKASSEN MODEL is a most worthy study, since Germany is in the Euro, it is compelling that we study their Public Banking System The Sparkassen and its Governance System with a view to developing a similar system in Ireland.
An ideal model for Ireland might see 80% of banking provided by Public Banks, together with an alternative debt free currency running alongside the euro. In numbers Ireland might well have 100 independent Public Banks; These Public Banks would compete with and eventually replace the High Street banks, essentially transfer staff to ethical public banks. Public Banks should not be to the detriment of the Credit Unions. The PBFI promotes the restoration of traditional Credit Unions which are an essential part of communities and of the public financial service system.
David Mullins CEO of Davit Technologies Sligo has called for a SLIGO PUBLIC BANK. This could well prove to be a successful approach with a public bank for each of the bigger counties (more for Dublin and other bigger cities) and perhaps initially some of the smaller counties combined. However, bigger is not better in this context. That above all is the lesson we must learn from the past 10 years.
Without comprehensive Public Banking services, there can be no equality. Without serious review of Irelands currency there can be no real control over our destinies. Without each of the above our sovereignty is in the hands of corporates, and we and future generations will be further enslaved.
Subsequent to the above mentioned seminar and consultation with these and other experts in the field, the PBFI propose to develop a business model for PUBLIC BANKING IN IRELAND.
Also please see www.RepublicIrelandBank.com for much more information on relevant and related matters.
Alternative parallel debt free currencies are already underway in Ireland:
Eire Bank, under the guidance of Jamie Dowling, from Kilkenny is an Irish concept in cyber currency/trade: see www.eirebank.com
There is a proposal on the table from Cathal Spellman, in Kildare, who is working with Anthony Migchels, from Holland, where an alternative currency has already been launched by Anthony. See A Migchels Blog/website
There are several movements working for the reform of the money system. In the UK Roger Hayes is advancing ETHICAL BANKING and POSITIVE MONEY headed up by Mark Dyson is gaining supporters at a rate of near 500 people per week. Positive Money has a sister organisation in Ireland called SENSIBLE MONEY, headed up by Paul Ferguson.