updated 1/18/2011 2:15:53 PM ET 2011-01-18T19:15:53

SONOMA, Calif., Jan. 18, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Launch was announced today of the Public Banking Institute (PBI), an educational nonprofit that researches publicly-owned banks, i.e. banks that are owned by national, state, or local governments. PBI's goal is to leverage the historic role of publicly-owned banks nationally and internationally in fostering access to cheaper, readily-available credit, particularly as used for increasing productive capacity.

Ellen Hodgson Brown is one of the founders of the Public Banking Institute and author of Web of Debt, a diagnostic and prescriptive analysis of our money system. She comments:

"Today we have a system in which bank profits are privatized but bank losses are borne by the public. We've bailed out banks because we know credit is essential to society. Credit is a public utility, like electricity and water; or at least it should be. Without it, our economic system fails. But the Wall Street form of banking that now dominates has proven to be an untrustworthy steward and a progenitor of systemic risk. Instead of making affordable credit readily available to the public, Wall Street is actually borrowing from the public at very cheap rates and lending it back to us as taxpayers, businesses and individuals at much more expensive rates, if it lends at all.  We do need banks, but we need banks that are accountable to us and that serve our interests. The consolidation of U.S. banking into megabanks is wiping out the traditional role of community banks and credit unions.  State-owned banks can give community banks a chance for survival. The Public Banking Institute will explore how public resources can be leveraged into low-cost credit, and how this credit can best be used to benefit the public."

About the Public Banking Institute

The Public Banking Institute is a non-partisan think-tank and research organization dedicated to exploring and disseminating information on publicly-owned banks.  It will provide objective research to facilitate their implementation. PBI is being formed by a group of citizens including past and present community and civic leaders, businesspeople, educators, political economists, writers, and banking and other professionals.

The mission of the Institute is to analyze public banking options in light of U.S. and global financial events. In the process, it will look to quantify the true costs of financing government and public services, including the costs of potential systemic risk, business cyclicality, and monetary instability imposed by particular methods of banking and government financing.

CONTACT: Public Banking Institute
         PO Box 2195
         Sonoma, CA 95476
         Marc Armstrong
         Development Manager
         (707) 343-6334 (cell)

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