Ellen Brown is the founder of the Public Banking Institute and author of a dozen books and hundreds of articles on finance, economics and banking. Ellen began her career as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. Her interest in financial reform was sparked during 11 years spent in Kenya, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, where she began to explore solutions to the challenges of the developing world.
She began researching the private banking cartels, their hegemony over Wall Street and control of the Federal Reserve. She looked for alternatives that might empower regional governments, Main Street, and the middle class. That led her to public banking (public banks are banks owned by a government or non-profit entity, whose broad purpose is to serve the common good rather than shareholders). Public banks foster real economic development and meet the needs of real people including students, farmers and entrepreneurs. They also fund long term government infrastructure planning. Ellen discovered that public banking is a very successful model around the world. For example: the bulk of community banks in Germany (called Sparkassen) are owned by community non-profit organizations. They dedicate themselves to small businesses and their local economies. German public banking nurtures one of the healthiest small business communities in the world.
The only operating government-owned U.S. public bank is the Bank of North Dakota (BND). BND has a solid track record since its creation 90 years ago and today outperforms the big Wall Street banks. In 2007 Ellen published the first edition of her best-selling book Web of Debt (now in its 5th edition). The book details how the private banking cartels have usurped the power to create money from the people themselves and how the people can get it back. Her writings proved prescient, as the financial collapse of 2008 laid bare the systemic problems she had identified.
This prompted the creation of the Public Banking Institute that same year as a means to coordinate and organize the public banking movement in the U.S. In her 2013 sequel The Public Bank Solution, she traces the evolution of two banking models that have historically competed—public and private—and explores contemporary public banking systems around the world. Ellen ran for California State Treasurer in 2014 with the endorsement of the Green Party, garnering a record number of votes for a Green Party candidate.