Support Is Rising for Public Banking in the United States

Public banking isn’t much talked about. However, it has nonetheless seen a surge of support in the United States in recent times. For proof, look no further than the fact that several states either have or are in the process of introducing public banking bills, with examples including but not limited to New York, New Jersey, and California. This makes it very clear that this interest isn’t restricted to a single place.

What Are Public Banks Anyways?

For starters, interested individuals should know that public banks are financial institutions owned by the public rather than private parties. They aren’t a new concept. One excellent example would be how the German banking system is separated into private banks, public banks, and cooperative banks. Another excellent example would be the postal banks that can be found throughout both the developed world and the developing world. For that matter, it should be mentioned that public banks are not a new thing in the United States, as shown by the existence of the Bank of North Dakota, which was created in 1919.

Naturally, there has been a great deal of discussion about the pros as well as the cons of public banking. The supporters of public banks tend to focus on several key arguments. One would be how public banks can lower the costs of government services as well as government infrastructure. Another would be how public banks can provide banking services to segments of society that are underserved by their private counterparts. On top of this, public banks can be used to promote certain kinds of economic development that are beneficial for their host communities but not as profitable as what private banks would like to see.

Meanwhile, the opponents of public banks have many key arguments as well. In particular, there is the claim that starting up a public bank would require a huge amount of capital, which can be quite difficult to muster for public entities that are on the smaller side of things. Besides this, there is concern over how political interests can influence public banks and vice versa, which could produce everything from corruption to excessively risky lending.

Why Is Support for Public Banking Rising in the United States?

Having said that, chances are good that interested individuals can guess why public banking is seeing increased support in the United States. After all, the COVID-19 crisis is still ongoing, meaning that its impact promises to be felt for years and years to come. On top of that, this isn’t the first financial disaster that a lot of U.S. residents have witnessed in their lifetimes, so they have a heightened awareness of everything that can go wrong in the recovery because of either firsthand or secondhand experience.

In any case, the COVID-19 crisis has been brutal for a lot of U.S. residents. Higher-income earners have managed to come out in relatively good shape. In part, this is because they have more wealth to serve as a cushion in difficult times. However, higher-income earners also tend to have jobs that can become remote, meaning that they saw fewer disruptions. Meanwhile, lower-income earners haven’t fared nearly as well, as shown by the loss of almost 10 million jobs as well as how more than 18 million people are on unemployment benefits. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that there is an interest in new systems as well as new institutions that can help out a huge swathe of U.S. residents.

This is particularly true because it has become clearer and clearer that a lot of the existing systems just aren’t working. For example, the Federal Reserve offered emergency lending that was meant to keep people employed by enabling businesses to keep on running. Unfortunately, this turned into an effective bailout of corporate debt issuers, underwriters, and bondholders, meaning that it did little to combat the long-running trend of big businesses becoming bigger by either overwhelming or snapping up their smaller counterparts. Similarly, underbanking isn’t a new concept, though the COVID-19 crisis has caused it to stand out more than ever before. Currently, something like a quarter of the U.S. population is either unbanked or underbanked.

Summed up, there is an increased sense of awareness that something needs to be done. Simultaneously, there is an increased willingness for people to push for new solutions for long-running problems. To some extent, this is because more and more people are becoming aware that current systems can’t solve everything out there. However, it should also be mentioned that times of crisis tend to make people more willing to make significant changes. So it is understandable that support for public banking is rising throughout much of the United States.

Updates On the Public Bank Campaigns

Measure B campaigns achieved 44.15% votes for a public bank. In total, 430 to 488 Angelenos voted in favor of a public bank. Considering the campaign was ill-founded and ran on volunteers’ dedication to the cause, this was a huge success.

After the Measure B campaigns, we switched our efforts towards a new cause. We are now focused on building the California Public Banking Alliance. The coalition was tasked with introducing the AB 857 bill to the California State Legislature in February of 2019. The coalition was a ten-city-member strong organization whose sole plan was to utilize the public banking act.

The public banking act is a state assembly bill that gives cities, counties, and regions in California a chance at setting up their public banks. The bill was written by Miguel Santiago and David Chiu, both Assembly members. This 2019 bill enables the department of business oversight to issue charters to local government organizations wishing to start and run a state bank.

The next major event took place in October of 2019. Governor Newsom signed the bill (public banking act) into law. Newsom made history by legalizing public banking in California. This bill also happened to be one of the few banking bills passed that year: the first progressive banking bill ever passed at a grassroots, citizen-powered effort without resources poured into lobbying.

In October of 2019, the Los Angeles City Council president introduced a new motion to the floor. Herb Wesson proposed a request for a quote to hire a consultant for the public bank business plan. He managed to bring the motion to the full council in December of 2019. The LA City Council was more than delighted to approve the motion. They voted to move forward and start the process of hiring a consultant.

The step to hire a consultant served as a go-ahead for the Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA). He set about drafting the scope and envisioned structure of the RFQ. The Chief Legislative Analyst was to revert the calculated costs of the consultant. As of February of 2020, the Public Bank Los Angeles had already kicked things off. The bank was working on a white paper addressing social injustices like Capitalization, lines of business, loans, and financial products. Financial products are aimed at supporting renewable energy in terms of infrastructure.

In addition to this, the Public Bank Los Angeles works on improved banking services for its members, impact and equity, regulatory purview and phasing, and governance and jurisdiction of the Bank of Los Angeles.

Why did Los Angeles start a Public Bank?

The cost of banking fees keeps rising. In 2018 alone, the city of Los Angeles paid over 170 million dollars in banking fees and an additional 1.1 billion dollars in interest to banking institutions and various investors. Banks have used their financial muscle to finance industries that cause harm to their clients. Some of these industries include private prisons, fossil fuel extraction, and weapons manufacturing. In 2017, the City of Los Angeles found itself in a prickly situation when Wells Fargo discovered thousands of false accounts that the company was using to siphon money. The company was fined millions of dollars, leading to Los Angeles cutting ties with them.

On several occasions, Wells Fargo was recorded to discriminate against Latino and African American buyers. Wells Fargo was also involved in the funding of harmful industries in Los Angeles. Logic dictates that local banks cannot manage the city’s funds. You would think that wall street should take up the mantle, but it’s not that simple.

Because we want to have banking services offered as a public utility, we want a bank that keeps money local and eliminates extra costs by cutting intermediaries. Shareholders and high-paid executives would also be removed from the banking scene, making way for a cost-effective banking system. 

The 2008–09 recessions taught us a few things: the century-old public bank of North Dakota can safeguard taxpayers’ money and can help an economic boom. At the same time, Wall Street’s financial institutions needed billions of dollars in bailouts; all siphoned from the taxpayers’ pocket. Charter Amendment B was intended to clear a path for Los Angeles to declare its independence from Wall Street.

In short, a Public Bank would operate with Angelenos’ best interests at heart. It would safeguard and grow the city’s assets through loans to viable city projects and local businesses. Political interests would not run the bank but an independent board of governors comprised of Los Angeles residents. The bank’s mission would be to serve Angelenos and safeguard their financial welfare. A social economy is the best cause of action to ensure that LA Tax dollars are invested in improving the lives of community members.

The Public bank will be a bank by the people, run for the people and working in collaboration with the citizens of Los Angeles.

 

T-shirts Revisited

Many of us own 10+ t-shirts in our wardrobe. However, did you know that the t-shirt industry is expected to be a $10 billion industry by 2025; and, the majority of those t-shirt sales are expected to come from e-commerce platforms.

If you’re a budding entrepreneur or new to running your own business, selling t-shirts using e-commerce platforms is one of the easiest ways to learn the trade. As a bonus, it requires a minimal amount of capital to get started.

For artists, in particular, this is a great outlet to showcase your creative talents. Alternatively, even those looking for a steady side gig and an extra source of income have the chance to dive in and make some art. Therefore, let’s get straight into some tips on how you can set up an e-commerce t-shirt business.

1: Look for niche markets to make a statement

Let’s be honest, it’s a flooded market, and you’re going to face stiff competition. That’s why the key to finding success in your early stages is identifying a niche — something that will appeal to a particular audience but has the potential to scale later on. The beauty of designing your brand is the freedom of self-expression. From funny slogans to rebellion with a cause, the choice is yours. 

First, single out a particular community, something you do, either professionally or as a pass time to start with. Say, for instance, you’re a mountain biker. If you can come up with a range of funny or topical designs related to this activity that fellow enthusiasts can identify with, it’ll likely sell. 

2: Find a good manufacturer and printer

The next step is to find a manufacturer that offers suitable quality materials and does the printing on-site. Don’t forsake quantity over quality even if you might be tempted to do in the early stages. The reason for this is that word of mouth and customer reviews will be crucial in your business’s growth in the early stages.

The next step is to identify the range of colors, fits, and size selections you’re going to advertise for, such as the typical small, medium, large, etc. And of course, if you’re going to have a men’s line, women’s line, or keep it as a one-size, fits-all type. Then, once you have quotes from the manufacturer, you know what cost and profit margin price points you can advertise.

It’s also worth checking if this manufacturer does print on demand and shipping. This will become more relevant later on.

3: Get creative with designs

Now comes the fun part, where you get to design the look and feel of the t-shirt. You might decide to keep it simple in the early stages and go for one design. Alternatively, you can design a few, which could form part of a reduced package deal. The choice is yours!

Whether you decide to go for simple text or images, the message still needs to identify with your targeted niche. And if you’re stuck on ideas, you can always resort to hiring a designer. There are many options online to source a freelancer as well as plenty of websites with design templates already created. You can even customize what is available by mixing and matching images and text.

4: Trial some prototypes

Once you’ve finalized your ideal design and are happy with it, it’s time to get the manufacturer to print off a few sizes and colors. Then, start wearing them yourself, as well as handing them out to some trusted work colleagues, friends, and family.

Wear the t-shirt on and off for a week or so. Also, make sure it goes through the washing machine and dryer at least once. Take note of how it feels and how well did it wash? And, of course, ask for feedback from those you’ve handed them out to. Ask questions such as: Are the t-shirts comfortable to wear, did they wash well, and what response, if any, did you get from others when they saw you wearing it?

Depending on the answers and your own experience, you might need to source another manufacturer. You might even need to re-think the initial design. In an ideal scenario, it’s none of the above, and you’re getting positive feedback. 

5: Make sure it’ll sell!

The next step is to make sure it’ll sell to your target audience, and here’s where you need to go online. Ask for feedback from outside of your immediate circle. Perhaps you already belong to a community social network group in your local neighborhood? Post some pics online and ask people for their feedback. You might even get some pre-orders.

Another alternative is to look to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to advertise it and even get orders. Then, you can gauge the response from there. You might even get lucky and get an offer from an investor to help fund your start-up.

6: Get online and start selling

Hopefully, up until this point, after all your design work, research and testing, you’ve got enough interest. There’s been positive feedback, and you’re ready to go into business and start selling.

You can design a website if you want. Although there’s plenty of other resources out there in the e-commerce space for selling your t-shirts. Facebook, Shopify, and Etsy make it easy for online apparel sellers to set up their e-commerce business on their platforms.

At this point, you have the option to manufacture your inventory, or you can partner with a print-on-demand service supplier. This means you’re not holding any stock, and any orders received will only get printed and shipped once placed.

So there you have it, six tips that’ll get you up and running in no time. The rising demand for t-shirts in the e-commerce space makes now the perfect time to start selling your designer t-shirts.

2021 US-Nigeria Investment Summit

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will meet in September to discuss important topics that affect all of humanity. Objects on the docket include Climate Change, Health, War, and many others. To complement this gathering of world leaders, the US-Nigeria Investment Summit will run in New York City for its third year.

The 2021 US-Nigeria Investment Summit begins on September 17th and concludes on the 18th. Business investors, international representatives, advisors, and service providers from a broad spectrum of industries will gather to network and form long-lasting partnerships that benefit both nations. The annual summit is sponsored by several prestigious institutions, including but not limited to, Nigeria’s Bank of Industry, The United States Trade and Development Agency, and the International Trade Administration. 

The focus of the US-Nigeria Investment Summit is to direct resources into Nigeria. Some concrete benefits that both nations enjoy as a result of the summit come in the form of job creation, raised awareness, and investment facilitation. This groundbreaking financial conclave first opened its doors in 2018 under the banner “Nigeria is Open for Business,” and the upcoming event will continue the strong tradition in 2021 with the tagline “Nigeria: The Future of Global Business.”

Topics at the convention span a wide range. Discussions include the importance of improving infrastructure, the development and implementation of Nigeria’s growing workforce, as well as seminars and conferences with leading industry experts and government officials. Though this festival of finance is still in its infancy, it has the potential to bring a long-term positive impact and set up Nigeria as a new global hub of industry in the future.

The direct connections enabled by this conference are vital to both parties: those working in the Nigerian industries, and those seeking a cutting-edge investment arena. Some sectors on which this year’s summit will focus include agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and ICT. 

According to their website, The 2021 US-Nigeria Investment Summit “Focused B2B and B2G meets will be facilitated by senior representatives from the Government. Interactive sessions with policymakers, senior Government representatives, and thought leaders will be held.” This direct interactivity eases the access barriers between government officials and the public.

Due to incredibly high demand, these exclusive marketing opportunities can be leveraged by the select few participants who pass through the rigorous application process. These lucky participants will also enjoy a sneak peek at the latest technology still in Research and Development (R&D). Business leaders will find opportunities to expand to a thriving international marketplace. The 2021 US-Nigeria Investment Summit has something for everyone.

The Daily Live reports, “According to McKinsey and other global analysts, Africa’s household consumption will top $2.7 trillion.” This spectacular growth opportunity is not going unnoticed by the key players in international financial investment. Several public accounting firms support the event including the International Finance Corporation, which is a World Bank group.

The confirmed guest list boasts Otunba Niyi Adebayo, Nigeria’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and Mohammed Sabo Nanono, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. United States President Joe Biden and President Federal Republic of Nigeria Mohammadu Buhari GCFR are also invited to attend. 

Some other invitees, who at of the writing of this article have not yet confirmed their attendance, are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization; Hon Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Honorable Minister of Foreign Affair; and Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN and Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works, and Housing. 

Needless to say, this guest list is quite the lineup of thought leaders and powerful players in the various topics that will be discussed and how they specifically affect the relationship between Nigeria and the United States’ economies. Of course, there will always be more to say on the issues, but the discourse is sure to be invigorating.

One exciting goal of the forward-looking summit is to utilize the power of cutting-edge technology to transform Nigeria’s entire economy into an environmentally sustainable circular economy. Nigeria may even lead the way by which the US and UK may learn. All countries must now reckon with the mistakes of history to move forward into a livable future for humanity.