The North Dakota Model for Capitalizing Community Banks
Escape From Pottersville
By ELLEN BROWN
Anchoring Community Banks to State-owned Banks
Where can our floundering community banks get the capital to make room on their books for substantial new loans? An innovative answer is provided by the state of North Dakota, one of only two states (along with Montana) expected to meet its budget in 2010. North Dakota was also the only state to actually gain jobs in 2009 while other states were losing them. Since 2000, North Dakota’s GNP has grown 56 percent, personal income has grown 43 percent and wages have grown 34 percent. The state not only has no funding problems, but in 2009 it had a budget surplus of $1.3 billion, the largest it ever had – not bad for a state of only 700,000 people.
North Dakota is the only state in the union to own its own bank.The Bank of North Dakota (BND) was established by the state legislature in 1919 specifically to free farmers and small businessmen from the clutches of out-of-state bankers and railroad men. Its populist organizers originally conceived of the bank as a credit union-like institution that would provide an alternative to predatory lenders, but conservative interests later took control and suppressed these commercial lending functions. The BND now chiefly acts as a central bank, with functions similar to those of a branch of the Federal Reserve.
However, the BND differs from the Federal Reserve in significant ways. The stock of the branches of the Fed is 100% privately owned by banks. The BND is 100% owned by the state, and it is required to operate in the interest of the public. Its stated mission is to deliver sound financial services that promote agriculture, commerce and industry in North Dakota. more