Growing support for public bank in New York

In May 2019, the finance and banking industry publication American Banker reported on growing support for a public bank in New York City. With backing from affordable housing advocates, workers’ rights groups, environmental activists, and credit unions, the ambitious endeavor spearheaded by Public Bank NYC makes the case that New York needs a municipally operated bank as an alternative to financial services contracts with multinational banks whose values and investments do not always align with community interests or needs.
The journal reached out to HR&A Partner Andrea Batista Schlesinger for comment as the co-author of the 2018 Seattle Public Bank Feasibility Study, which considered the viability of what could’ve been the nation’s first city-owned public bank alternative. While the study found that a public bank in Seattle would—at best—require a long-term process with numerous regulatory reviews and restrictive limitations on capital capacities, Batista Schlesinger remains optimistic about creating a new kind of financial institution directly accountable to local values. “There is no doubt that there is more interest in public banks today than I would say even six months ago,” she said. “The idea of local control appeals more and more in this political climate.”
One recent victory for the movement that may not have been imaginable even six months ago is the passage of California bill AB857. This bill will allow city and county governments to legally create public banks, making California only one of two states to preemptively sanction these institutions. As California, New York, and a growing number of localities nationwide demonstrate an eagerness to explore and eventually implement public banks, there is a growing need to understand the intricacies of how public banks can deliver on their many promises.
Read more about the public banks movement in American Banker: In New York, growing support for a public bank
Check out HR&A’s 2018 Seattle Public Banking Feasibility Study