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State-owned banks and development: Dispelling mainstream myths

Thirty years of neoliberal restructuring have side-lined alternative financing practices, and propagated mainstream myths about state-owned banks. This paper examines these neoliberal claims, arguing instead that public financing remains a crucial part of progressive, sustainable and democratic strategies for investments in long-term development and infrastructure.
Drawing on past and present case studies, as well as theoretical literature on finance, the paper points to the potential to revive – and improve – state-owned banking as a viable option for financing public services. It looks at imperfect but telling or inspiring examples of SOBs from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, South Africa, Turkey and Venezuela, among others. In their wide diversity, SOBs across the globe are envisioned positively and often used in progressive ways to fund important development projects. This paper argues that there is much to commend SOBs as real alternatives to privatization and neoliberalism.
Thomas Marois
Publication Information: 
Occasional Paper No. 21
Publication Date: 
Publication Type: 
Occasional Paper