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Small Banks, Big Benefits (Episode 16)

In this episode of the Building Local Power podcast, our guest is Justin Dahlheimer, president of a community bank in west-central Minnesota. Justin and our hosts discuss the benefits of community banking, and how banks lend differently when they have a vested stake in their community.… Read More

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April 13, 2017

A Tool to Find Banks that Invest in the Local Economy

A new tool called Bank Local, which was developed with input from ILSR and other experts, makes it easier to assess the impact that banks have on their communities.… Read More

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October 8, 2015

How One State Escaped Wall Street’s Rule and Created a Banking System That’s 83% Locally Owned

North Dakota has a different kind of banking sector than the rest of the country does, with six times as many locally owned financial institutions per person as the rest of the U.S., and local institutions controlling 83 percent of the market. What is North Dakota doing differently? A lot of the answer is the Bank of North Dakota.… Read More

Map: Number of banks by state.

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September 1, 2015

Why Glass-Steagall Should Be a Key Issue During the 2016 Campaign

In a 2016 campaign season already dominated by candidates’ pursuit of Wall Street donations, how to regulate the banking sector remains one of the most pressing issues facing the country. The Glass-Steagall Act is becoming, and should remain, a key part of the debate.… Read More

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July 17, 2015

One in Four Local Banks Has Vanished since 2008. Here’s What’s Causing the Decline and Why We Should Treat It as a National Crisis.

The precipitous decline in the number of community banks in recent years is a national crisis, and there’s a fierce debate underway right now about what’s to blame.… Read More

Photo: Community Bank Borrowers

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May 5, 2015

Small Business Lending by Size of Institution, 2014

In 2014, community-based financial institutions made 60 percent of all small business loans, even though they control only 24 percent of banking assets.… Read More

Chart: Share of Loans Made to Small Businesses, 2014.

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April 20, 2015

Just How Concentrated Is Our Banking Sector? [Video]

This 90-second video shows how giant banks have devoured the banking sector over the past 20 years.… Read More

Chart: Bank market share in 2014.

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Federal Study Confirms “Too Big To Fail” Gives Megabanks a Hidden Funding Advantage

When the country’s giant banks were teetering on the verge of collapse during 2008’s financial crisis, the U.S. government stepped in to bail them out. The banks were, in a phrase that has since become infamous, “Too Big To Fail.” Would the government do it again? And does the expectation that it would step in give megabanks an unfair competitive advantage over local community banks? Those are the questions at the heart of an eagerly awaited report released at the end of July by the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal department. In a conclusion that highlights the need for more regulatory action to reduce concentration in the banking system, the G.A.O. found that the answers to both questions are “yes.”… Read More

Wall Street photo

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August 20, 2014

Understanding the Small Business Credit Crunch

Even as their big competitors are awash in capital, many locally owned businesses are struggling to secure the financing they need to grow. This analysis finds that, since 2000, bank lending to large businesses is up 36 percent, while small business loan volume has fallen 14 percent and “micro” business loans — those under $100,000 — have plummeted 33 percent.… Read More

San Francisco's Cole Valley Neighborhood

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April 16, 2014

Small Businesses Figure Heavily in Goldman Sachs’ PR, But Not its Portfolio

By Stacy Mitchell and David Morris For years Goldman Sachs gave only a tiny fraction of its profits, less than 1 percent, to charity.  Then the depression hit and the huge bank was in the public’s crosshairs for its role … Read More


October 30, 2013

Free Checking is Rare at Big Banks, Common at Small

While just 24 percent of big banks offer totally free checking, more than 60 percent of credit unions and small banks do, according to a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The report also found that credit unions and small banks have lower fees on average and do a better job of disclosing fees to prospective customers.… Read More

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November 27, 2012

Too Big to Lend

A critical function of our banking system is financing small businesses. But big banks are doing a rotten job of it. At the nation’s largest banks, small business lending has plunged 33% since 2009. Trying to cajole or compel them to do more won’t make much difference because the problem is largely inherent to their scale.… Read More

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October 17, 2012

Banking For the Rest of Us

In this cover story for Sojourners Magazine, Stacy Mitchell writes that there is remarkably little evidence to support the idea that bigger banks are superior. They have come to dominate, not because they are more efficient or offer better services, but because they have rigged government policy in their own favor. It’s time for a new set of rules—banking policies for the 99 percent.… Read More

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April 1, 2012

How State Banks Bring the Money Home

One of the most significant consequences of the consolidation of banking over the last decade is how much it has hindered the economy’s ability to create jobs. There’s no single solution to this problem, but one of the most promising strategies involves creating state-owned banks that can bolster the lending capacity of local banks, helping them grow and multiply.… Read More

Home of the Economy

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September 15, 2011

Why Republicans Hate Warren’s CFPB But Love Another Bank Regulator

What’s really at issue in the fight over the CFPB is not how the agency is structured or how much power it will have, but whose interests it serves.… Read More

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March 18, 2011

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