What Wall Street Costs America (and Arizona)

Wall Street CostsThe Public Banking Institute (PBI) has initiated an educational project entitled “What Wall Street Costs America.” PBI and advocates around the country are learning to read Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). All governmental bodies must issue annual CAFRs– including the State of Arizona (here), the State Retirement System (here), Pima County (here), Tucson (here), and Tucson retirement system (here). (With a quick Google search, you can find statements for other cities and counties, Pima Community College, and the University of Arizona.)

There is a lot to scroll through when studying the CAFRs, but the Wall Street jackpot can be found in the entries for “interest on debt”, “debt service”, “management fees”, “fiscal agent fees” and/or “debt issuance costs.”

Here are a few figures that I pulled from the Pima County, City of Tucson, and State of Arizona CAFRs.

Pima County CAFR findings:
Principal: $81,933,000 (page 40
Interest on Debt: $26,439,000
Total Debt Service: $108,372,000

Tucson CAFR Findings:
Principal: $49,743,385 (page 22)
Interest on Debt: $25,539,124
Fiscal agent fees: $23,625
Debt Issuance Cost: $1,197,267
Total Debt Service: $76,503,401

Arizona CAFR Findings:
Principal: $494,592,000 (page 47)
Interest and Other Charges: $312,024,000
Total Debt Service: $806,616,000

These are staggering sums of money in interest and fees, and it is likely the tip of the iceberg, since there are probably other fees and costs tucked into these reports. Is it time for public banking yet? I think so.

Here is more background from PBI on the What Wall Street Costs America project.

The vast amount of money paid to Wall Street by America’s cities, counties, and states has profound impacts on our lives and local economies. Most citizens don’t know about it – they just pay it. It’s a staggering amount: Over $1 trillion moves from taxpayer pockets into private Wall Street hands each year in the form of interest payments on bonds, loans, fees, and financial product costs which have caused:

  • School closures
  • Lost jobs
  • Life-long student debt
  • Reduced public services and infrastructure
  • Privatized public assets, and
  • Stymied local businesses who can’t get affordable funding to grow.

Wall Street extractions from the public purse seriously hurt America’s strength and in just a few years will consume one-third of our economy’s production in interest payments.

What Wall Street Costs


In an exclusive initiative by the Public Banking Institute, What Wall Street Costs America begins a national conversation about the urgent need to break free of our reliance on the costly private financing of public investment. The debt load is squashing local economies, ruining our school systems, letting our infrastructure crumble, and so much more. Once people learn these facts and discover the alternatives, we can move toward public finance of our public needs without Wall Street usury.

What Wall Street Costs America will provide the ONLY aggregated look at our local and national debt costs through an interactive map with data figures and human stories of what Wall Street has really cost America. This project lays out the facts so that citizens can act. Breaking our dependence on Wall Street usury means reclaiming control of our money through publicly-owned, public-interest banks. Join us in taking a stand together.


• Unify citizen action across citizen groups to stand united against Wall Street abuse at the local level
Create supportive educational webinars to help local efforts
Host a central campaign website offering geographical data displays and narratives that tell the true stories of how Wall Street extractions have punished our nation’s people and economy
Create new media content and videos to educate and inspire citizen knowledge and action
Provide direct support for citizens to start new public banks that serve the public interest where they live
Create strategic collaborations for action across groups such as social and economic justice, local business, tax relief, education, labor, and many more to start actually changing the system


Ellen BrownThis is a project for everyone–and we need people from every city, town, county, and state to share their knowledge and resources to paint the largest collective picture ever painted of America’s wealth transfer to Wall Street. You can:

Donate to What Wall Street Costs America. Our fundraising efforts will support webinars, the web site, visual and textual media, social media, and widespread building of this important narrative. Please make a donation today.

Send us your data! Click here for our online research guide. We will build our stories based on your stories, our database based on your reports. Email us for more information!

Send us a video! Make a 2-3 minute video showing us your city or town, and explaining what Wall Street debt, fees, and gambling schemes have done to your public spaces. Email us for more information!

Join our webinars! Email us for more information!

Become a member
of PBI and help us start public banks in every state. Join here!

One thought on “What Wall Street Costs America (and Arizona)

  1. Pingback: Let’s Get to Know Each Other Better: Stop by My Booth at the Peace Fair, Feb 27 | Powers for the People

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