Policy Spotlight
Public Banking

Author: Bryna Godar

The public banking movement has gained significant momentum in recent years, with groups across the country looking into the viability of government-owned banks for their communities. From a “pot bank” in Los Angeles to a “public infrastructure bank” in Massachusetts, proponents of public banking view it as a way to address community needs and better leverage taxpayer funds to benefit the public.

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Current Scholarship
Border Crossing

Author: Marc Flandreau
A NEW ECONOMIC HISTORY is emerging. It needs a new journal. Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics finds its roots in the resurgence of interest for the economic past that has been a characteristic feature of recent years, accelerating after the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008. The crisis, and the recession that ensued, brought to the forefront the centrality of the capitalist economy as a powerful historical factor. Popular and intellectual perceptions of the instability of the capitalist economy and of the inherent inequality which it may breed, not to mention the corollary of political and social problems that accompanied the subprime crisis, reopened old and important debates. Entrenched assumptions pertaining to the efficiency of the capitalist system came under scrutiny. This perception transcends the value judgment on the system under discussion and, transcending as well political cleavages, history has been called to make sense of the times. At the onset of the crisis, the “precedent” of the interwar economic crisis became the template against which new events were read, and central banks were asked to make sure there would be no repetition of the interwar disasters. The conversation is far from over and it has already succeeded in inspiring the formation of a new school of thought in American history, known as the “New History of Capitalism.”

Flandreau, Marc. “Border Crossing.” Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics, vol. 1 no. 1, 2019, p. 1-9. Project MUSEdoi:10.1353/cap.2019.0004.

Current Scholarship
Ethical Finance as a Systemic Challenge: Risk, Culture, and Structure

Author: Saule T. Omarova
This Article analyzes the principal themes in the newly reinvigorated public debate on the role of ethical norms and cultural factors in financial markets and identifies its key conceptual and normative limitations. It argues that the principal flaw in that debate is that it tends to ignore the critical role of systemic, structural factors in shaping individual firms’ internal cultural norms and attitudes toward legitimate business conduct. Reversing the causality assumption underlying the current academic and policy discourse on institutional culture, the Article discusses how broader reform measures seeking to alter the fundamental structure and dynamics of the financial market-on a macro- rather than micro- level-would profoundly, and far more effectively, alter individuals’ and firms’ normative choices and attitudes. The key to making finance ethically sound, therefore, is to make it structurally sound – and to do so on a systemic level.

Saule T. Omarova. “Ethical Finance as a Systemic Challenge: Risk, Culture, and Structure” (2018) p. 797 – 839
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/saule_omarova/23/

Current Scholarship
Between the ‘Bank Screw’ and ‘Affording Assistance’: Rules, Standards and the Bank Charter Act of 1844

Author: Iain Frame
This article explores a dilemma at the centre of the monetary order: how to counter inflation eroding the value of money and simultaneously allow bank‐created credit to meet the needs of an expanding economy. Building on recent scholarship on the history of money, the article analyses the Bank Charter Act of 1844 and the financial crisis of 1847 to reveal a response to this dilemma which continues to shape the modern context. That response relies on ex ante restrictive measures in a bid to limit the discretion of the monetary authorities and cultivate financially prudent behaviour. Yet the history of the mid‐nineteenth century exposes the challenges faced by those who enforce such rules, challenges which tie the mid‐nineteenth century to the post 2008 reforms in both the US and the Eurozone, and reveal the ongoing force of the dilemma: that simultaneous desire for both expansive credit and sound money.

Iain Frame, Between the ‘Bank Screw’ and ‘Affording Assistance’. Rules, Standards, and the Bank Charter Act of 1844, The Modern Law Review, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1468-2230.12467