Public Banks in the Age of Financialization
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Public Banks in the Age of Financialization

A Comparative Perspective

Edited by Christoph Scherrer

This book asks the important question of whether public banks are a better alternative to profit-seeking private banks. Do public banks provide finance for development? Do they serve as stability anchors in financial markets? What kind of governance keeps public banks accountable to the public? Theoretically the book draws on the works of Minsky for the question on stability and on interpretative policy analysis for the issue of governance. It compares empirically three countries with significant public banks: Brazil, Germany, and India.
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Chapter 14: The challenge of keeping public banks on mission

Christoph Scherrer


The author explores what leads public banks to disregard their public service function and how one can prevent this disregard. Taking the German public banks as an example, he briefly describes their ‘mission creep’ in the form of financialization. Guided by the theory of hegemonic discourse, he interprets mission drift as part of neoliberal hegemony. This leads him to be skeptical about technocratic organizational solutions to the problem. From his discourse and analytical point of view, awareness about the public mandate seems to be of utmost importance. If the key actors of public banks are not aware of the public mandate and do not identify with the public mandate, then staying within the public mandate cannot be expected. Therefore, he argues that one needs to start with the general debate about the content of the public mandate and how public banks can contribute to it.

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