Upcoming Speakers and Events!

Where and When: Our guest speaker forum meets from 2-3pm on Sundays before the regular Alternative Banking meeting whenever we can schedule good speakers. We meet in room 409 of the International Affairs Building of Columbia University at 420 W. 118th Street (& Amsterdam Ave).

April 12th, 2015. In the effort to understand the complex and fascinating Real Eastate Market of NYC, we are excited to announce that Tom Adams will join us to lead a discussion on the issue. In addition, there might be more news about the recent NYCHA’s lease program.

May 17rd, 2015. Our speaker is Elly Spicer. She is the former Director of the NYC Carpenters Labor Technical College, which includes the Carpenter union’s 4 year apprenticeship training school.   Elly will be talking to us about the under-appreciated role of apprenticeship in lifting people from under-served communities into the middle class, in addition to sharing her thoughts about the current bi-partisan political coalescence around the promise of apprenticeship more generally.

NEW: OWS Film Club

As addition to our Speaker Series, please come and join us to watch films that address occupy issues. Once three months or so in the spot of a speaker, we will watch a film and have a discussion afterwards. Looking forward to seeing you there. Also, please provide your suggestions about what films we should watch Alt.Banking.OWS@gmail.com

June 7th, 2015. Inside Job 

September 6th, 2015. Citizen Four

December 6th, 2015. Merchants of Doubt

The dates are subject to change. Please check the site for updates. Suggest speakers, join our e-mail list, or otherwise contact us at Alt.Banking.OWS@gmail.com


March 15th, 2015. Please join us to welcome Mickey Paoletta – the author of  the book “The Deconstruction, Banking and Money Dynamics”. He will talk about debt, inflation and law vs. the public.

March 8th , 2015 Please join us for the first US screening of Who’s saving whom? At first the threatened economies were being rescued and then whole countries were being bailed out since 2008. Politicians are juggling with increasingly new multi-billion rescue packages, while people are again working for starvation wages in Europe. There are many rescue packages but there is no salvation in sight. The documentary film „Who is saving whom“ shows the truth about who is saved: It was never about saving the Greeks, or the Spanish or the Portuguese. It was always about the principal earners of these crises: the banks that contributed with high-risk speculations. We, the taxpayers and socially disadvantaged, are expected to put up with these massive billion euro risks. For the big banks the financial crisis is mainly a business model.

February 22nd, 2015. Argentina and the Vultures: For nearly a decade, Argentina has been embroiled in a fierce legal battle with a group of holdout creditors widely known as “vulture funds.” Multiple US courts have ruled that Argentina must pay the vultures or not pay any of its creditors at all, yet whether these courts will be able to force a foreign sovereign to obey them is still an open question. Our guest speaker Sophista is a researcher working on the case, and will speak to us about the history of the vulture strategy and why these rulings have raised criticism from mainstream financiers, the US executive branch, and foreign governments alike. Please join us.

February 15th, 2015. Our speaker is Jonathan McMillan – the author of The End of Banking: Money, Credit, and the Digital Revolution. The book explains why a financial system without banking is both desirable and possible in the digital age. The first part of the book presents the functions and the mechanics of traditional banking. It discusses how a delicate balance of government guarantees and banking regulation kept the flaws of banking under control in the industrial age. The second part explains how the digital revolution unsettled this balance. The rise of shadow banking is explained, and it is shown how an unsustainable boom in the shadow banking sector led to a banking panic: the financial crisis of 2007-08. The third part shows that the digital revolution has played a dual role. Information technology not only undermined the effectiveness of current banking regulation, but it also rendered banking redundant. An innovative blueprint for a modern financial system is presented and the implications of the end of banking are discussed.

February 8th, 2015. Please join us to welcome Katya Cohen – the author of The American Spellbounda tale of Wall Street excess. The central figure of the book is Vika Stakhanova who has everything figured out. “You’re either on Wall Street or you are a bum and there’s nothing in between,” she reasons. She’s an exemplary, abiding, thoroughly institutionalized member of the American corporate world. Vika does not have any friends; she has acquaintances. She does not have ideals; she has a comfortable niche. She does not have interests. She’s consumed by her pursuit of the “game.” Whatever personality she once had has been cemented and thrown into the river, mafia-style, away from sight. On Wall Street, personality is bad for business. Her usual MO is snark and derision – de rigueur qualities of a cynical and weary Manhattan dweller…

The financial collapse didn’t just destroy the way of life for millions of ordinary Americans, it also destroyed our carefully built narratives about hard work, merit and fairness. What does hard work mean? What are we working hard toward? When Vika asks herself those questions, in a rare moment of clarity, she panics. What happens when we come face-to-face with such dilemma and realize that our old mental arrangements just don’t work anymore?

February 1st, 2015. We will have two presentations this Sunday.
Please join us to welcome Michael D. White (an attorney, urban planner and former government public finance and development official) and Carolyn McIntyre. They will talk about how Citizens Defending Libraries came about, what it’s done, what it hopes to accomplish and how folks can get involved. Much more information can be seen in this post and on the Citizens Defending Libraries site.

Also on Feb. 1, this one from 4-5 pm, Nick Levis will fill us in on the goings on in Greece. As you probably know, a left-wing, anti-austerity coalition called Syriza just won the election and formed a government.


January 25th, 2015. Please join us and Tamir Rosenblum to talk about the non-union developer-Goldman Sachs-HPD-Mayoral coalition that is behind current NYCHA’s lease program. As we understand public bonds are going to enable the sale of  900 NYCHA units to the worst non-union developers, on what appears to basically be a no-risk deal for the developers (public money is going to pay for the difference between the NYCHA rent-rates and market rates). The labor record of these developers is just abysmal, and by making public housing essentially private, more likely it will allow these guys to use their regular, utterly exploited undocumented immigrant workforce to do the renovation work without prevailing wage obligations applying.

January 18th, 2015. Interested in how you can invest in local businesses? We have a great speaker on the subject: Michael H. Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur, and a globally recognized expert on community economics. He is one of the architects of the crowdfunding reforms that became the “J.O.B.S. Act,” signed into law by President Obama in April 2012. Shuman is currently Director of Community Portals for Mission Markets and a Fellow at Cutting Edge Capital and Post-Carbon Institute. He’s also a founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He is also an adjunct instructor in community economic development for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

December 21st, 2014 Please join us in the conversation with Fog Of War (not his real name) about taxes. The US tax code is more than 6600 pages long. It is super complicated. Needless to say, we won’t be able to cover it all, but will try to get a better understanding of certain parts of it. For example, deductions. What if mortgage interest deduction would disappear? How would it effect households and construction industry? (Just a note: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not allow mortgage interest deduction and still have same incidence of home ownership). Is it a good idea to have a flat tax rate for individuals and corporations? If you have questions about taxes, please prepare them for the tax expert.

December 14th, 2014. Laura Hanna and Hannah Appel, of Strike Debt & the Debt Collective, will join us to talk about their ongoing work.

December 7th, 2014. Chris Rose – the founder and Executive Director of REAP (Renewable Energy Alaska Project) – will share his experience and ideas on how to start and implement renewable energy projects.

After working as a fundraiser for various non-profit public interest groups around the United States he received his law degree in 1990 from the University of Oregon, with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. For over 10 years his private practice in Alaska included representation of Native Alaskans from Northwest Arctic villages and the mediation of a variety of disputes around the state..

November 30th, 2014.The three concepts of Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG)  are intimately linked to the concept of Responsible Investment (RI). RI began as a niche investment area, serving the needs of those who wished to invest but wanted to do so within ethically defined parameters. In recent years it has become a much larger proportion of the investment market. Interested in Responsible Investment (sometimes called) Impact Investment? Please join us in the conversation with Auros Harman of  HIP Investor (HIP = Human Impact + Profit). We also will touch on how to identify leading indicators of financial performance in the ESG frame work and how we, regular folks, can make an impact in the investment sector.

November 9th, 2014. The Internet of Money? Many people are excited about Bitcoin or, more generally, digital currencies and other applications of blockchain technology. Josh Snodgrass will discuss why people are excited about this, how digital currencies work, where they now stand and what the future could look like – both good and bad.

For a good introduction to Bitcoin, you can take this short online course.

October 26th, 2014 Please join us to discuss the latest development in the muni bond market with Tom Sgouros, who is a freelance public policy analyst, engineer, and writer. He makes his home in Rhode Island, an ideal laboratory for studying the effects on the local economy of poor public policy and broken finance markets. In 1991 he became a banking analyst in a hurry upon the onset of Rhode Island’s very own banking crisis. Since then, he has consulted to dozens of elected officials, candidates, and activists, in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California, Vermont, and elsewhere around the country, about public finance, banking, tax policy, and sustainable economic development. His latest book is Checking the Banks.


October 19th, 2014 We invited Columbia students Sam Lutzker and Sammy Schwartz, who were involved in the Summer for Respect project, to talk to us about their experience of organizing Walmart workers.


September 14th, 2014
Doug HenwoodWe are excited that Doug Henwood will visit. He is the author of Wall Street: How it Works and for Whom and hosts the weekly radio show Behind the News.
Please join us.


August 24, 2014
Best-selling British author Nafeez Ahmed will speak on Mass Surveillance and the Crisis of Civilization: The inevitable collapse of the old paradigm and the potential for the rise of the new. The international security scholar and investigative journalist writes for The Guardian on the geopolitics of interconnected environmental, energy and economic crises . As advance reading for this talk, we recommend browsing through his Guardian articles, including the widely read June 2014 piece, Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown”

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