A dynamic theory of public banks (and why it matters)
This publication by the Institute of Innovation and Public Purpose examines public banks as a novel theoretical alternative and practical pathway towards financing green and just transitions.
12 February 2021
UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) Working Paper Series: IIPP WP 2021/06
Thomas Marois | UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose
Marois, T. (2021). A dynamic theory of public banks (and why it matters). UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, Working Paper Series (IIPP WP 2021/06). Available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/public-purpose/wp2021-06
Public banks are pervasive, with more than 900 worldwide, and powerful, having assets nearing $49 trillion. Yet they are too often perceived as static financial institutions, based on economic theories that begin from fixed notions of what it is to be a ‘publicly-owned’ bank. This has given rise to polarized debate wherein public banks are characterized as being either essentially good or bad. This is unrealistic and unhelpful as we seek ways to confront the crises of finance and of climate finance. We need instead to rethink public banks as dynamic and contested institutions within the public spheres of states. In this view, public ownership itself predetermines nothing but it does open up a particular public realm of possibilities. Change becomes possible and is a result of social forces making it so, if within the structural confines of gendered, racialised, and class-divided capitalist society. A dynamic theory of public banks provides a novel theoretical alternative and a practical pathway towards financing green and just transitions in the public interest.