People Demand ‘Banks for the Common Good’ to Overthrow Multinational Behemoths
A Common Dreams report: A coalition of social justice groups in Scotland looks at the economic and ecological dangers of corporate mega banks and mounts an argument for democratic reform
In a new report (pdf) focused on Scotland but with global implications, a coalition of social justice groups in the U.K. outlines the risks inherent to an economic system built to serve mega banks, and advocates for the radical reform of replacing these multinational conglomerates with small, local, and not-for-profit “people’s banks” that would serve citizens instead of shareholders.
Progressives have long argued that corporate banking is an enormous threat to the global economy, as the 2008 economic crisis clearly demonstrated. What’s more, the situation has only grown worse as multinational mega banks continue to merge and consolidate—a trend that shows no signs of stopping.
This latest call for local, publicly-owned “people’s banks” joins a growing movement that has argued for such democratic reforms to banks in the U.S., Europe and around the world.
The report, called “Banking for the Common Good: Laying the foundations of safe, sustainable, stakeholder banking in Scotland,” was the result of a collaboration between the social and economic justice groups New Economics Foundation, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Move Your Money and Common Weal.
“Scotland’s banking system is unstable and unfit for purpose,” the report begins. It goes on to paint a woeful picture of the effects of corporate banking on Scottish society:
Our banks are not providing sufficient funds for much-needed infrastructure. Our banking system is structurally unable to fund “patient capital”, i.e. low-return but potentially risky investments, like those which are needed to stimulate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. Instead, billions are channelled into property, inflating asset prices, as well as unsustainable industries such as coal mining, the manufacture of nuclear weapons, and speculation on food prices, a practice which is fuelling global malnutrition.
Friends of the Earth Scotland argues, “We need to move away from highly concentrated, profit-driven banking to an ecosystem of institutions which are structurally designed to work for the common good.”