The Bank of North Dakota — Its History and Operation

North Dakota has a public bank–a bank that has been owned and operated by the people of North Dakota since 1919. Because of the Bank of North Dakota, the state weathered the crisis of 2008 far better than most. North Dakota has not had a single local bank failure in more than 20 years. This documentary, produced by Prairie Public Broadcasting, presents the bank’s history, its current operation, and how it benefits the state.


Money and Banking 101 — Issues and Solutions


From time-to-time we will post items that we are calling Money and Banking 101. These come from various sources around the world. This is the first in that series. The three videos presented here come from the Public Banking Institute and the Pennsylvania Public Bank Project.

The first of these videos deals with money and money creation. People will work for decades to make the money they need to pay the bills and other necessities. Yet, fewer than 1-in-1000 people understand how this money actually gets into circulation and who benefits from our current system. After viewing this video, you will be one of those 1-in-1000 who understand this troubling issue in our current banking system. This is important knowledge. Please pass it on.

The second video informs you of perils your deposits face in large global banks — as set by law. People think that money is safe in the big banks because the FDIC will protect the deposits. This assumption is not based on fact. This video will show official government documents that describe the plans for confiscating deposits when (not if), a big bank fails. Individual, as well as public funds from municipal, university, county deposits are at serious risk. Your taxpayer money will disappear in the next crisis! Public officials in charge of taxpayer funds need to be aware of the dangers here. The loss of taxpayer funds and the inability to meet payrolls and obligations will certainly prompt a response that will both immediate and forceful.

For more information about current law and how it jeopardizes your bank deposits, see Legal Framework for Big Banks Puts Depositors at Risk by Steve Seuser, Co-Director, DC Public Banking Center.

The third of these videos shows us an important part of the solution to the problems outlined in the first two videos–the formation of public banks. Our cities are not broke. They are struggling with onerous interest payments to Wall Street bankers who are nothing but middlemen. These interest payments impoverish your communities, while enriching Wall Street. This video shows how municipalities, counties, universities and states can significantly reduce their interest payments by creating their own public bank. This has already been done and proven, and could cut the costs of public projects by at least half.



Hanauer — The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

Nick Hanauer, the author of this Politico Magazine Special Report is a member of the “1%”–well, actually the 0.01%! He is a longtime advocate of higher taxes on those like him, saying that, in fact, the wealthy are not the “job creators”, but it’s a healthy middle class, who create demand for items entrepreneurs like him produce. He does have an excellent track record in understanding and predicting trends. His warning in this article should not be taken lightly. The article is at The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats.

A recent, informative analysis of this article and its author can be found at The Tax Analysts Blog at Nick Hanauer Wants the Fat Cats to Save Themselves. Here’s Why They Won’t.


Craig Barnes’ Interview of Public Banking Experts

Craig Barnes, Gwen Hallsmith, Mike Krauss Listen to Craig Barnes interview two experts on public banking, Gwen Hallsmith, Executive Director of the Public Banking Institute, and Mike Krauss, a director of the Public Banking Institute and chairman of the Pennsylvania Project–an organization dedicated to the formation of Public Banks at the state and municipal level in Pennsylvania. They recently visited Santa Fe on behalf of We are People Here! to meet and discuss, with Mayor Gonzales, City Councilors, and other civic leaders of Santa Fe, the benefits and the formation of a Public Bank for the City of Santa Fe.


The Root Problem – The Pursuit of Wealth and Power

This video makes the important connections between our economy, our ecology, and our culture – our world view, the stories by which we live. It does a better job than anything I have seen at relating the problems we are currently facing (economic, ecological, democratic) to the pursuit of wealth and power — global banking being a major player. A particularly important point it discusses is that changing our culture–how we think about ourselves, our communities, and our world–is one of the important pillars in making changes to our economy, ecology, and democracy. It is a very thoughtfully done presentation entitled How We Live: A Journey Towards A Just Transition from Kontent Films.


The Extreme Wealth Inequality in America

This video does a superb job of graphically showing the extent of the wealth inequality we are seeing in our nation. While some inequality is inevitable and even necessary for a well-functioning economy, the extent of this inequality, which has gotten worse since this video was made several years ago, is detrimental to our society and democracy. The large international banks are prime contributors to the inequality. Please pass this video on to your friends, who may be unaware of the extent of the problem.

The study on which this video is based can be found at

Building a Better America–One Wealth Quintile at a Time


Mayor wants to study possibility of launching public bank

Mayor Javier Gonzales wants to study the feasibility of creating a public bank in Santa Fe to grow the local economy by keeping taxpayer money in the city.

Santa Fe Mayor, Javier Gonzales

Santa Fe Mayor, Javier Gonzales

Gonzales, who talked about the idea on the campaign trail, organized a presentation Tuesday for city councilors and others to understand the basics of public banking, which leverages a government’s assets to stimulate investment in the community. Examples of public banking include offering low-interest loans to local businesses or low-cost financing for public projects, such as housing and infrastructure.

After the presentation Tuesday by the Public Banking Institute, Gonzales said he wants the city to issue a request for qualifications to conduct a feasibility study over the summer. The results of that study could be available before a public symposium on public banking that’s scheduled in Santa Fe in September.

“This is going to be a very slow, long, methodical process,” Gonzales said. “No one is going to rush into creating a public bank, and we’re going to make sure that the public fully understands and supports it before it even gets to that type of decision-making process.”

While public banks exist in other parks of the world, the only public bank in this country is the nearly century-old Bank of North Dakota, though there are efforts to create more public banks in the U.S.

“It’s not an easy idea to implement,” said Gwen Hallsmith, executive director of the Public Banking Institute.

Hallsmith, one of the presenters Tuesday, said the state of Vermont, where she lives, has taken “several steps” toward a state-owned bank, though it hasn’t obtained a banking license.

“We have an administration that’s relatively open to it,” {Hallsmith} said. “They’re a little nervous about the banking part because the bankers are so opposed to it. That’s another reason that it hasn’t happened. Big banks push back. They’re powerful. People are afraid of powerful entities.”

Hallsmith said public banks don’t compete with private banks at the state or local level. Public banks actually serve as a backstop for smaller banks, she said.

“They are competition for the big banks, the too-big-to-fail banks, because those tend to be the banks that get the public deposits,” Hallsmith said during Tuesday’s presentation. “But the smaller banks that are doing economic development, they actually help them and support them.”

Gonzales said he heard about public banking early in the campaign season from Craig Barnes, founder of We Are People Here !, a local nonprofit that believes the global banking industry is the “major root cause of much of the misery and inequality” in the world, according to the group’s website.

Barnes said during Tuesday’s presentation that the city of Santa Fe can’t rely on others to stimulate the economy.

“The state of paralysis in the Congress is such that we’re not going to get help from the federal government,” he said. “We’re going to have to do whatever we do on our own. We have to create the mechanisms.”

Gonzales said he’s trying to keep all options open, even when they’re unconventional.

“We need to see what public banking would mean here before we can even go to the next level,” he said, referring to the feasibility study. “And maybe at that point when it’s completed, we determine we can’t go any further. But we’ve studied it. I think the people of Santa Fe want us to look at every means possible to make sure that we’re able to grow this economy in a way that helps all families.”


Public Banking Experts, Gwen Hallsmith and Mike Krauss

Mike Krauss

Mike Krauss, Pennsylvania

Mike Krauss is a former officer of county and state government, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee, and an advisor to regional and national political and public policy organizations. His public service has focused on energy and water conservation, rural housing rehabilitation and historic preservation. Mike has broad experience in North American and international commerce as the Vice President of Leasing and International Sales for the Strick Companies, CEO of Remex SA de CV and AVP Automotive and Intermodal for a Class I railroad, TFM SA de CV (now Kansas City Southern de Mexico). He is the author of the forthcoming novel “Pursuits of Happiness,” and his by line has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, other daily newspapers and regularly in the Bucks County Courier Times. He is currently researching a social study of post World War II suburban United States. Mike is a Lay Minister in the Episcopal Church and describes himself as “passionate about justice, indifferent to authority.”


Gwen Hallsmith

Gwen Hallsmith, Vermont

Gwen most recently made national headlines with her work in Vermont to ask Town Meetings to consider public banking. On March 4th, 18 cities and towns in Vermont voted to endorse a resolution directing the state legislators to create a State Bank for Vermont. Thanks to the media expertise of William Boardman and Matt Stannard, the national media has picked up on the story, and there have been now over 20 radio interviews, print stories, and starting this week we’ll be on syndicated television with the story as well… Gwen has an interview with GritTV on Tuesday, and we understand that even bigger shows are working on the story – stay tuned.

Gwen is the author of several books on sustainable communities and economic reform, including her most recent book with Bernard Lietaer called Creating Wealth: Growing Local Communities with Local Currencies. She has been an advocate for economic reform for over 25 years, and implemented new currency projects on the local level in her recent position as the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Montpelier. Her work spans the globe – she has worked in all the major world regions at this point, and with cities, towns, regions, provinces, and states in the United States and Canada.

Her vision for the Public Banking Institute expands our horizons to include many other aspects of a public monetary system, everything from strengthening the possibilities for local investment that the new SEC regulations allow to fostering and supporting complementary currencies for local and regional means of exchange. Her deep commitment to local action matches our vision for the Institute as a source of technical assistance, training, and research for all the state, regional, and local initiatives underway to set up public banks and other currency and investment initiatives.


Gwen Hallsmith

Gwen Hallsmith


Tuesday, June 10, 6:30-8pm

Unitarian Church

107 W Barcelona Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505

WeArePeopleHere! invites you to join Gwen Hallsmith for a light-hearted evening exploring  public banking through music and games. We will be making public banking fun!

Gwendolyn Hallsmith is the Executive Director, Public Banking Institute, founder of Global Community Initiatives and author of Creating Wealth & The Key to Sustainable Cities, Meeting Human Needs, Transforming Community; and Creating Wealth: Growing Local Economies with Local Currencies.

She has over 25 years of experience working with municipal, regional, and state government in the United States and internationally.

Free will donation.