The Cost of Wall Street
A project of
About Us


America has public options for water, energy, transportation and other important economic sectors that are essential to the economy. From education to health care, these public options (some quasi-public options) save money, provide convenience, and improve the general wealth and economic well-being of our communities.
Commonomics USA asks, why not have a public option for banking and finance, specifically public finance? Other countries use their public banks to provide low cost money precisely when and where it is needed. Even the state of North Dakota in the conservative mid-west has a bank that serves to meet its state and local public financing needs.
If public banks keep the government from having to raise taxes to pay for increased public services, what is the cost of doing business as we have been doing in our states and municipalities? The Public Finance IQ project begins to answer this question by visualizing the cost of our existing public finance system. We hope you will find it valuable to use as make the case for public banking.

The Problem

Public finance in America has been completely privatized -- public entities issue debt that serves to reward those who finance the debt, at the expense of existing and future generations of taxpayers. We are so used to this that many of us cannot fathom that an alternative exists. It's as if we are used to buying bottled water at inflated prices and cannot imagine a public option of water on tap.
Privatization of public finance has real consequences. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was rebuilt with a price tag of over $6.4B for materials and services. Did you know that another $6B in interest and fees is being paid to the private financiers of the bridge? The cost of the bridge was doubled because California does not have its own public bank which could have issued 100% of the financing using bank credit. 
Commonomics USA has developed this technology platform to visually show the cost of doing business as usual. Our first set of visualizations are for California, from school districts to the state. The methodology developed by Radford University is here.

We anticipate that these visualizations will used to make the case for public banks at municipalities, counties and at the state level. After all, public debt should be financed by public entities, not serve as a way to reward the wealthiest private individuals or corporations.

More about Commonomics USA can be found here.