Making Cities Smarter Than Their Bankers

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As complex organisms, modern cities monitor their financial health and longevity, like Olympic athletes and hospital patients. The banking system encircles and ensnares people, buildings and environments defining cities, credit rating some higher, no matter their quality of life, disaster mitigation, infrastructure buffers or exposures. This paper explores technologies for smart cities to use the banking system to better advantage, through more coherent measures, innovation policies and incentives for livability. Municipal banking, credit ratings, sustainability bonds, crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding solutions for smart cities are also discussed.


Urban Finance: Old School

Cities contextualize how people own, use and finance assets there. Home prices and vacancy rates reflect (1) physical, environmental and neighborhood assets (amenities), (2) expected mortgage and tax rates and other costs of ownership (total cost of ownership, TCO) and (3) expected resale prices (future value). Commercial real estate adds (4) the uncertainty of lease rental rates for business cycles, (5) idling costs of vacant space, and (6) operating cost inflation, so as to maximize the building's total net revenues and competitiveness. Governments own and manage a portfolio of assets (streets, schools, parks, airports, hospitals, city halls, courts, police stations) that attract city dwellers who pay the taxes that pay interest on bonds that finance the city's operating and capital budgets.

Years ago, the maze of a city's credit rating, debt service, bond refinancing, self-insurance for its operations (think plaintiffs' slip-and-fall jury awards), costs of extreme events (such as natural and manmade hazards), tax rates, and intergovernmental transfers from state and federal governments, was a byzantine financial alchemy few knew or cared to explore. Taxes were taxes, and how they came to be so was simplified to citing the number of city public high school graduates who finished college. How banks financed city life went unseen as urban finance.


Urban Finance: Today

Today, urban finance is a game, where players succeed through literacy, transparency and practice. Home prices, tax assessments and trends are online. Real estate listings show buyers and tenants the cost of owning or renting urban space. Government budgets are available online, with crime rates, public school rankings, land use/environmental impact reports and other information readily available for anticipating city quality of life risks and threats for comparison to like-sized cities. And banks compete directly and through intermediating online brokers for home mortgages, car, credit card and other customers.


Reconnecting Banks with Urban Finance

The 2008-10 Credit Crisis and rolling state, county and sovereign debt destabilizations prove that what banks finance or refuse to finance, to whom and on what terms, can revive or wreak havoc on regional economic, social, environmental and geopolitical stability.

Herein lies the disconnect: No matter how sustainable or transparent the city, its municipal bond rates reflect no discount. No matter how sustainable the family's lifestyle, its mortgage, taxes and other costs reflect no discount. No matter how much consensus a neighborhood reaches to save energy, combat crime or feed and house their homeless or "working poor" so as to reduce their hospital, school, crime and social services costs, the neighborhood's tax rate earns no discount. And certainly no dynamic mechanisms automate awarding, monitoring or withdrawing the discount as local efforts ebb and flow meriting it.

Can smart livable cities leverage their banking? Can they mitigate global banking shocks? Can online sensors and artificial intelligence technologies change how banks rate city neighborhoods and their collateral value? What is and grows a "smart city?"


Smart Cities and their Technologies

Imagine windows automated to close or shade in the summer cooling season and let in the sun's heat during the winter. The intelligent windows smooth spikes in air conditioning, reducing utility investments in standby generators just to cool a few peak summer days, thus strengthening the city's electric utility and keeping the city's energy rates lower. Such smart windows should reduce utility bills, mortgage interest rates or property taxes.

Sadly, as Philip Howard of Common Good [7] notes, government agencies have evolved to resist and impede commonsense efficiencies. What if a city rewired its agencies and utilities to leverage technology-assisted behavioral patterns and impacts? With so many devices web-enabled to generate terabytes of urban data, a smart city would use the sensor technologies to improve urban livability daily.


A Privacy Caution and Niche

Government use of citizens' pattern-recognized digital lives poses privacy and civil liberties concerns. If one house sets its thermostat a few degrees lower overnight than the neighbors, does the utility or its marketing affiliate bombard the sleeping green citizen with 20% off coupons for blankets in an unwelcome coincidence of inevitable consequence? Can the data on behavioral patterns, once captured as footprints on digital sands, remain private or accessible only for its originally intended use?

Smart cities that enhance privacy by adopting a "we won't spam you" citizen identity data anonymity policy may find a special niche as alcoves for living ad-freer!


Optimizing Smart City Procurement

Cities are bulk procurement machines, they buy for thousands of people, programs, buildings, classrooms, acres, road miles and other municipal necessities and amenities. Government requests for proposal (RFPs) encode procurement specifications that either (1) specify pet technologies with a predestined successful bidders cartel, or (2) define interoperable functions and standards that shift whole industries to adopt changes in product manufacturing and features, so as to speed iterative product life cycles.

Public bidding processes generate a disconnected digital babble of government shopping lists – procurement data that a smart city would mine to approach vendors, innovation labs and intergovernmental and public-private partners to reduce overall costs, upgrade technology or fast-changing functionality, and reduce the risk of government stand-alone systems. Visualizing and aligning RFP procurement patterns would encourage citizens, fiscal watchdogs, agency contracting officers, companies and nonprofits to propose innovations that stretch city budgets by increasing social returns on investment. With leaner procurement, banks would buy a smart city's bonds at a premium, because its operating and capital costs decline from the efficiencies, and earn the city better credit ratings.

As government auction, gift and de-accession programs (even via eBay®) prove, cities can buy too much of what they no longer need or what wasn't the best bargain, technologies that won't work with existing or planned interoperability purchases or "upgrades," and then stuff old stuff in unproductive warehouse space to shrink from breakage, theft, obsolescence or decay. What if cities banded together to create their own version of GroupOn®, with all the public bidding protections that decades of commonsense, sunlight law fairness and conflict of interest disclosure experience suggest? Everything from energy to prescription drugs have bulk procurement programs, what if a cooperative grouped multi-city/multi-agency buying power to grow the market for more products that improve urban sustainability? Conversely, what if instead of RFPs leading technology standards, cities deliberately lagged, using better impacts feedback, perhaps through more fine-grained sales tax rates, so that products (like hybrid cars) priced by the market as saving on energy, were awarded higher rankings in government procurements.


Smart Cities Use Their Clout With Bankers

Assume that the major questions for building a smart city were asked and answered, how would having a smart city change the dynamics of bank negotiations, function and systemic safety? Are smart cities better credit risks, and in the event of fiscal, manmade or natural hazard shock, can loans to smart cities be refinanced easier? The answers depend on making banks compete for city business.

Major cities differ widely in their banks' competitiveness. Federal antitrust statistics use the concentration of deposits held by the largest banks, as an index to assess competitiveness. Ann Arbor Michigan scores 852 and San Francisco scores 1869, meaning that not only is San Francisco's banking less than half as competitive, it's nearly monopolized (over 1800) following a succession of bank failures, mergers and acquisitions. When just a few banks control urban finance, cities, companies and citizens enjoy limited bank choices, raising their loan interest and fees, and giving bankers market power to limit credit access and refuse to restructure loans when the bank's underwriting is stress-tested by business cycles of recession and expansion.

Smart cities try to reduce exposure to banks' business cycle risk. Wartime business cycles historically yield more expansion months, but recent business cycles – including the current recession – defy economic and social buoyancy through war-making. Clearly, cities can't use war-making to moderate the cyclical threats to their economies or banks.

Cities are valued bank customers – as local comptroller's reports and campaign finance contributions by banks and bankers show. In April 2007 at the beginning of the subprime mortgage crisis, New York City (NYC) [10] noticed that a lack of access to full service bank branches aligned closely with community calls to city agencies for help in preventing mortgage foreclosure and resulting neighborhood blight. The City used its modest clout as customer to force its major banks to restore full service branches.

Using a city's clout as bank customer could instigate bank innovations that enhance smart city programs and behavior patterns. But that requires a city finance manager to see and effectively align operational program benefits and strategies across city agencies and agendas, unleashing radically fast collaborations. Consider a chief information officer for an Environmental Protection Department who convinces colleagues in the Real Property Assessment, Buildings and Land Use Departments to align procurements to enjoy the shared perspective and savings of interoperable geospatial information systems (GIS) across the city's stakeholders in public and private sectors.


Mapping What Cities Need Where

Geospatial intelligence applications promote smart city thinking. The next sections describe examples of new geospatial tools: sustainable resiliency®, a Three-Layered Map of the WorldTM and Economy MappingTM.


Sustainable Resiliency

Every region has a cacophony of experts, championing metrics that reflect their domain expertise on economic, environmental, education, health, nutrition, transportation and other natural, social and built infrastructure systems. Sadly, the municipal budgeting process – taking cues from federal budgeting – is terribly inefficient at prioritizing thematic issues, and weighing innovations for realizing long-term savings through synergistic investments in mitigation and sustainability.

Post-disaster, hoards of performance benchmarks and their stewards arrive for humanitarian reasons, but also to reap the funding of disaster response, usually the most expensive "next disaster mitigation investment strategy."

What if, instead of post-disaster, a city fused their performance benchmarks into a coherent regional quality of life index, called sustainable resiliency? Each government program, business activity and NGO impacting sustainable resiliency would explain the dimensions of their contributions, as part of simplifying the e-filed or paper ocean of taxes, permits, budget requests and contract bids. As the city implemented choices that improved and assured sustainable resiliency, its credit rating would improve, providing objective market validation of reduced risk and increased municipal efficiency. Cities with rising sustainable resiliency signal they are becoming cheaper to operate and manage over time, while cities with declining sustainable resiliency will face higher operating and capital expense, foreshadowing larger maintenance budgets, crime rates and municipal deficits.

Innovative solutions would become coins of the realm: Transit-oriented development restores inner city vitality, removing blight, traffic congestion and suburban sprawl. [13] Replanting mangroves to restore natural capital as flood protection for 100 years [14] costs less and is more efficient than building concrete seawalls and levies that crack in 30 years, only to be replaced at 30-year intervals, forever. As a differentiated fixed income instrument, municipal bonds rated for their sustainable resiliency impacts attract impact investors, socially-responsible mutual funds, and pension fund, insurance, university endowment and others with mission congruency mandates. In structuring sustainable resiliency bonds, the issuer (a government agency in this case) would covenant to regularly report on how the bonds' proceeds launched or maintained sustainable resiliency projects. Such reporting would provide valuable smart living impacts data, and could be monetized by making a bond deferral, discount or other incentive pivot on timely, accurate periodic impact reports.


SubExTM: An Example of Sustainable Resiliency

Subways carry passengers, but could do more. SubEx would move small package freight by subway, another strategy to grow smart city sustainable resiliency.

In the early 1900s pneumatic tubes on Wall Street carried traders' orders, stock certificates and cash. Proposals for using subways for hauling freight seemed the next wave. Wharves along the City's rivers brought freight that trucks carried into the city center. Truckers opposed shifting hauling to the railroads operating subways. Today, the wharves are long gone, and trucks clog highways, bridges, tunnels and city streets during rush hours.

SubEx would make dual use of subway infrastructure by pooling FedEx®, UPS® and other overnight courier packages, loading them in bins pre-sorted by office and apartment building addresses, putting the bins on special subway cars, and delivering the packages' "last mile" by bicycle or eco-friendly transit. Gone would be the added air pollution, wear on street paving, extra potholes and double-parking of racing and idling delivery trucks, along with their congestion adding road rage at peak transit bridge and tunnel hours. Instead, freight franchise revenues would help offset the deficits of running a passenger-only subway infrastructure that is relatively unused at non-peak hours. Mathematically, adding freight use to 225 route miles of subway makes NYC's 49,000 street lane miles and 30 regional bridges and tunnels more efficient and safer, thus avoiding the cost of building more roads to carry the same daily commuter plus freight load. [17]


Three-Layered Map of the World

Sustainable resiliency is like a barometer of regional quality of life equilibrium. Needs indigenously known or remotely sensed for health, sanitation and other concerns no longer depend on outside advocates (NGOs or contractors) to be seen and solved. Needs objectified by sensors and prioritized and advocated in local voices are more compelling. Likewise, a global wave of innovations by social entrepreneurs creates simpler capacities for meeting the needs, more effectively than large scale infrastructure or centrally-planned solutions that take years to build and finance, create risk of corruption, and are abandoned when found too hard to operate. Every region has formal and informal budgets – money – allocated by national governments or multinational donors, money that too often is unaccountable once it hits the target country and its elites.

A global map consisting of three layers: needs, capacities to solve needs and money allocated to the region or need – a Three Layered Map of the World – would empower smart cities and their citizens to discover, adopt and implement innovations faster, cheaper and autonomously.


Economy Mapping

As municipal assets, slums have negative value: Displaced there, squatters pay no taxes, but consume municipal services. There the human toll of disaster risk looms large: deaths, dismemberment, orphaning, disability and lost incomes. Yet, the post-disaster fate of slums persists through benign neglect. Natural disasters de facto clear slums, without political or court opposition de jure.

An Economy Map plots a truer value of disaster mitigation, reflecting (1) fiscal costs borne pre-disaster for the slum's residents, (2) sustainable resiliency needed to assure their survival in place or elsewhere pre- or post-disaster, and (3) ways to reduce impacts of a disaster in the slums that then radiate out regionally or nationally.

Istanbul straddles the Anatolian and Eurasian tectonic plates comprising the North Anatolian Fault Zone, creating frequent risks of earthquakes and tsunamis. The 7.4 Izmit/Kocaeli Earthquake of August 17, 1999, killed 17,127 people, injured another 43,959 and structurally weakened 120,000 buildings. The magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Istanbul expected by 2040 would kill 50,000, damage 40,000 buildings and cost upwards of $11 billion. [18, 19] More than 40% of Istanbul's 12 million residents live in informal settlements (slums) non-resilient structures. 50% of Istanbul's government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) revenues comes from gas pipelines, [20] some running under inadequate slums built along seismic fault lines, that would collapse post-earthquake, vanishing such revenues for a time, and in turn, jeopardizing the 40% of Turkey's sovereign debt rating tied to Istanbul's. Thus, disaster mitigation of slums might insulate sovereign ratings.

Mitigating Istanbul's gas pipeline slum vulnerability is just one benefit monetized on an Economy Map. Pandemic risks reduced by cleaner legal housing in former slums protect the entire city from disease. Better educational and social infrastructure reduces poverty, crime, terrorism and the inevitable social instability of have-nots demanding solutions that the wealthy refuse them. Using Economy Mapping, credit agencies can rate municipal bonds higher, saving debt service that the smart city can invest in mitigation.


Smart Businesses Like Smart Cities

Corporations embrace sustainability, for brand enhancement and employee satisfaction. They attract conscious consumers, socially-responsible investors, and government contracts, grants and tax incentives for "clean energy," "pollution abatement" and other progressive activities. Through ISO 9000 and 14001 certifications, and emerging industry standards (e.g., LEED® for green buildings and ENERGY STAR® for electronics), corporate manufacturing processes are improving energy, environmental and transportation efficiencies. Independent reports (e.g., the Carbon Disclosure Project [21) make the public aware of corporate sustainability practices.

With global insurance losses and premiums rising, businesses seek to control insurance costs for property, casualty, business interruption and healthcare. Climate change flood risks forecast for desirable coastal and waterfront cities require city managers to design and clearly explain proactive strategies for mitigation. Seismically-active regions exposed to earthquake or tsunami flooding are especially prone to insurability disadvantages. Prudent corporate risk managers seek urban collaborations.

Smart cities that attract triple bottom line companies (profit, planet, people) find corporate balance sheets willing to match local funding for multi-dimensional sustainable resiliency projects. State bond banks and county/local economic development bond programs can provide tax-exempt funding for corporate investments that upgrade sustainable resiliency. As corporate social responsibility (CSR) ratings drive employee and management involvement in local quality of life issues, corporate human and institutional resources become allies in improving neglected neighborhoods, schools and other challenges.


Crowdsourcing Urban Solutions & Funding

People congregate in cities for the planned and random power of synergies catalyzed there. Silicon Valley companies owe much of their success to such synergies.

Smart cities sponsor and leverage online communities built for crowdsourcing and funding solutions. For instance, [22], OpenIDEO [23] and OpenAction [24] identify intractable issues, and encourage stakeholders to pool solutions. Crowd-funding for a city's innovators, from web services like Kickstarter [26], let people directly fund new businesses and solutions they believe in. A smart city would create an investment fund to match public-private funding of crowd-sourced solutions to speed adaptive innovation.


Social Capital & Complementary Currency

Improving slums and fragile neighborhoods and restoring urban economic growth requires smarter financial and social capital. Better rated, lower interest sustainable resiliency bonds and local business borrowing and insurance rates, as described above, save financial capital.

A parallel currency – the social capital of neighbor helping neighbor – is abundant everywhere. Habitat for Humanity [27] and Mexico's Patrimonio Hoy [28] sweat equity initiatives teach homeowners and neighborhoods to rebuild stronger, safer houses. Typically, construction industry partners contribute time, materials and skills training to the project, making tangible their humanitarian concern and "good neighbor" commitment.

Every home fix-up project does not need a new drill, paint sprayer or special linoleum installer's tools. How many hammers, wrenches and screwdrivers sleep idly in tool chests? Using web-matching services like NeighborGoods [29], smart cities would encourage citizens (especially moderate income, student, immigrant and elderly populations) to lend and borrow, rather than buy, the tools and know-how needed to rebuild their housing, start a business or reinvigorate their community infrastructure.

Clueless as to how to reinstall a double-pane window, or start advertising your new business on the web? Services like TimeBanks [30] let citizens find an hour from citizen-mentors willing to share their expertise. At some exchange rate, Time Bank credits would cost the smart city less than sending city work crews or contractors to rebuild the housing, or pay jobless benefits to budding entrepreneurs. Such exchange could be effected as tax credits, merchant-sponsored coupons or discounts, free movie or museum admissions, or other forms of complementary currency that publicly dignify and reward civic behaviors. [31] Complementary currency flows abundantly in smart cities.


High-Transparency Banks, not Ostriches

Banks are the air traffic controllers of urban lifestyle data Peet's Coffee sells a latte and swipes payment from a credit card. A contractor buys supplies at Home Depot to green the local Peet's store, using a credit card. A manager pays the tuition by bank transfer for his employee's high school equivalency class as a job benefit. Millions of such transactions flow daily through the digital channels of bank operations. Bailouts of predatory Industrial Age banks left their knowledge of community impacts camouflaged, and their marketing-by-demographic-profiling intact.
Imagine a high-transparency ethical bank, GoodBankTM(IO), built for the Information Age, that gives customers constant feedback as to the regional, environmental and social impacts of saving, spending, investing, borrowing and donating. [32, 33] The bank as community would reflect sustainable resiliency impacts in clients' relationship pricing and as its CSR. By living financial lives truer to their ethical goals, customers reconnect meaning and money, earning complementary currency rewards. Enhanced social financial literacy and behavior could improve systemic bank safety and soundness. High-transparency banks quantify impacts, so they align smart city empowerment strategies in enduring and new ways.


Publicly-Owned Banks

If the bankers fail to fairly value a smart city and its citizens and businesses, the city could buy or form a bank.

The history of government-owned banks is fairly thin and distant. Private sector banks seem as evolutionarily inevitable as the air we breathe. The United States and its major trading partners have (or had) banks wholly or partially owned by government. [34] Whether public or private banks navigate the ups and downs of business cycles better is beyond the scope of this paper.

Cities and their networks of people, businesses and infrastructure generate bank deposits. They require loans independent of the business cycle (regionally/nationally) and independent of bank risk-taking elsewhere. Loans and other financial services in smaller cities should not become more expensive or vanish as (1) international regulations require "Too Big To Fail" money center banks [36] to post higher reserves [Basel III 37], or (2) the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation imposes higher deposit insurance premiums to replenish its depleted fund. [38] Major banks' disregard for local economic development, housing equity (mortgage access), education (student loans), farming (agriculture) and other capital needs historically justified forming publicly-owned banks (e.g., The Bank of North Dakota that still exists.) [39, 40]

Healthy banks thrive through constant adaptation. Publicly-owned banks also must master political adaptation. When well-managed, such banks assure competition in a region whose private banks are too small or at competitive disadvantage in acquiring funds to lend to their customers.

If a smart city's banks delay rewarding its sustainable resiliency advantages appropriately, if its banks merely credit-rate the city by outmoded measures designed to ignore or retrospect vulnerabilities, then the city might be well served to form a bank. Such bank, if styled as a bankers' bank, could improve the competitiveness of regional, smaller banks, while serving as "local Federal Reserve" to insulate the city and its residents from the systemic risks and periodic failures of larger national/global banks. Alternatively, the city's bank could offer investment banking to make a market in sustainable resiliency bonds, salable to a ready audience of local investors.



Smart cities can use sustainability and resiliency innovations to recast their banking and credit options. The uncertain longevity and ownership of banks, large and small, suggest that cities create a range of financial allies at local levels, and reconceive their credit quality proactively. Business cycles challenge banks' appraisal and underwriting assumptions. Regulators often merge unhealthy banks into larger banks. The monopolization of local banking hurts people and businesses, impacts that smart cities as bank customers can reverse. The shift from predatory banking in the Industrial Age to high-transparency banking in the Information Age would leverage innovations and data available in abundance to smart cities.



The foregoing article originally appeared in Artificial Intelligence and Smarter Living – The Conquest of Complexity: Papers from the 2011 AAAI Workshop (WS-11-07) of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Conference held in San Francisco in August 2012. [41]
The author is now also a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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[4]    Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB). 2006. Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pollution Remediation Obligation. Statement 49.
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[8]    Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. CASSIDI: Competitive Analysis and Structure Source Instrument for Depository Institutions.
[9]    Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. CASSIDI: Competitive Analysis and Structure Source Instrument for Depository Institutions.
[10]    Comptroller of the City of New York, Bureau of Commercial Banking. Maps of Banking Development Districts.
[11]    FDIC. 2007. Summary of Deposits.
[12]    Comptroller of the City of New York. 2007. Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2007, at pp. 69-70,
[13]    U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration. Transit Oriented and Joint Development.
[14]    United Nations Development Programme – Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery. 2004. Reducing Disaster Risk: A Challenge for Development.
[15]    Cahan, B. & Urban Logic. 2009. SubEx: Moving Small Package Freight through City Subways, not City Streets.
[16]    Liu, H. 2000. Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline Basic Concept, Practical Considerations, and Current Research. In Mid-Continent Transportation Symposium 2000 Proceedings,
[17]    New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. 2010-2035 NYMTC Regional Transportation Plan., Chapter 4.
[18]    U.S. Geological Survey. 1999. Implications for Earthquake Risk Reduction in the United States from the Kocaeli, Turkey, Earthquake of August 17, 1999. Circular 1193.
[19]    Green, R. 2008. Unauthorized Development and Seismic Hazard Vulnerability: A Study of Squatters and Engineers in Istanbul, Turkey. In Disasters. Vol. 32(3) pp. 358-76. First presented at 2007 United Nations University Summer Academy on Megacities: Social vulnerability and resilience building.
[20]    Moody's. 2009. Moody's International Public Finance Regional and Local Governments: Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, Turkey. December 2009.
[21]    Carbon Disclosure Project, 2010. S&P 500 Report.
[22]    U.S. General Services Administration and 2011.
[23]    IDEO. 2011. OpenIDEO: Where people design better, together.
[24]    OpenAction. 2011.
[25]    Kassan, J. 2010. Petition for Rulemaking: Exempt Securities Offerings up to $100,000 with $100 Maximum per Investor from Registration. July 1, 2010.
[26]    KickStarter. 2011. KickStarter – a new way to fund.
[27]    Habitat for Humanity. 2011. Habitat for Humanity: Willingness to Partner with Habitat.
[28]    CEMEX SAB. 2011. Patrimonio Hoy.
[29]    Sugar Packet, Inc. 2010. NeighborGoods: Sharing Guidelines.
[30]    TimeBanks USA. 2011 TimeBanks Homepage.
[31]    DeMeulenaere, S. 2011. Complementary Currency Resource Center.
[32]    Cahan, B. 2009. Using High-Transparency Banks to Reconnect Money and Meaning. In Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Community Development Investment Review. Summer 2009.
[33]    Stoller, M. 2010. Are you ready for a radically sustainable bank? In Fast Company. September 2010.
[34]    Cahan, B. 2010. State-Owned Banks.
[35]    National Bureau of Economic Research. 2011. US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions.
[36]    Morgan, D. & Stiroh, K. Too Big to Fail after All These Years. In Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Report. No. 220. September 2005.
[37]    Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. 2010. Basel III: International Framework for Liquidity Risk Measurement, Standards and Monitoring. December 2010.
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Image by 401k, courtesy of Creative Commons license.

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Oregon’s Initiative to Legalize Mushrooms | Initiative Petition 34
Oregon continues to push ahead with their initiative to legalize Psilocybin in 2020. The measure received its official title and now needs signatures.

Canada Approves Psilocybin Treatment for Terminally-Ill Cancer Patients
Canada’s Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu approved the use of psilocybin to help ease anxiety and depression of four terminal cancer patients.

Mapping the DMT Experience
With only firsthand experiences to share, how can we fully map the DMT experience? Let’s explore what we know about this powerful psychedelic.

Guide to Machine Elves and Other DMT Entities
This guide discusses machine elves, clockwork elves, and other common DMT entities that people experience during a DMT trip.

Is the DMT Experience a Hallucination? 
What if the DMT realm was the real world, and our everyday lives were merely a game we had chosen to play?

How to Store DMT
Not sure how to store DMT? Read this piece to learn the best practices and elements of advice to keep your stuff fresh.

What Does 5-MeO-DMT Show Us About Consciousness?
How does our brain differentiate between what’s real and what’s not? Read to learn what can 5-MeO-DMT show us about consciousness.

How to Smoke DMT: Processes Explained
There are many ways to smoke DMT and we’ve outlined some of the best processes to consider before embarking on your journey.

How to Ground After DMT
Knowing what to expect from a DMT comedown can help you integrate the experience to gain as much value as possible from your journey.

How To Get DMT
What kind of plants contain DMT? Are there other ways to access this psychedelic? Read on to learn more about how to get DMT.

How DMT is Made: Everything You Need to Know
Ever wonder how to make DMT? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how DMT is made.

Having Sex on DMT: What You Need to Know
Have you ever wondered about sex on DMT? Learn how the God Molecule can influence your intimate experiences.

Does the Human Brain Make DMT? 
With scientific evidence showing us DMT in the brain, what can we conclude it is there for? Read on to learn more.

How to Use DMT Vape Pens
Read to learn all about DMT vape pens including: what to know when vaping, what to expect when purchasing a DMT cartridge, and vaping safely.

DMT Resources
This article is a comprehensive DMT resource providing extensive information from studies, books, documentaries, and more. Check it out!

Differentiating DMT and Near-Death Experiences
Some say there are similarities between a DMT trip and death. Read our guide on differentiating DMT and near-death experiences to find out.

DMT Research from 1956 to the Edge of Time
From a representative sample of a suitably psychedelic crowd, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who couldn’t tell you all about Albert Hofmann’s enchanted bicycle ride after swallowing what turned out to be a massive dose of LSD. Far fewer, however, could tell you much about the world’s first DMT trip.

The Ultimate Guide to DMT Pricing
Check out our ultimate guide on DMT pricing to learn what to expect when purchasing DMT for your first time.

DMT Milking | Reality Sandwich
Indigenous cultures have used 5-MeO-DMT for centuries. With the surge in demand for psychedelic toad milk, is DMT Milking harming the frogs?

Why Does DMT Pervade Nature?
With the presence of DMT in nature everywhere – including human brains – why does it continue to baffle science?

DMT Substance Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to DMT has everything you want to know about this powerful psychedelic referred to as “the spirit molecule”.

DMT for Depression: Paving the Way for New Medicine
We’ve been waiting for an effective depression treatment. Studies show DMT for depression works even for treatment resistant patients.

Beating Addiction with DMT
Psychedelics have been studied for their help overcoming addiction. Read how DMT is helping addicts beat their substance abuse issues.

DMT Extraction: Behind the Scientific Process
Take a look at DMT extraction and the scientific process involved. Learn all you need to know including procedures and safety.

Microdosing DMT & Common Dosages Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing DMT.

DMT Art: A Look Behind Visionary Creations
An entire genre of artwork is inspired by psychedelic trips with DMT. Read to learn about the entities and visions behind DMT art.

Changa vs. DMT: What You Need to Know
While similar (changa contains DMT), each drug has its own unique effect and feeling. Let’s compare and contrast changa vs DMT.

5-MeO-DMT Guide: Effects, Benefits, Safety, and Legality
5-Meo-DMT comes from the Sonora Desert toad. Here is everything you want to know about 5-Meo-DMT and how it compares to 4-AcO-DMT.

4-AcO-DMT Guide: Benefits, Effects, Safety, and Legality
This guide tells you everything about 4 AcO DMT & 5 MeO DMT, that belong to the tryptamine class, and are similar but slightly different to DMT.

How Much Does LSD Cost? When shopping around for that magical psychedelic substance, there can be many uncertainties when new to buying LSD. You may be wondering how much does LSD cost? In this article, we will discuss what to expect when purchasing LSD on the black market, what forms LSD is sold in, and the standard breakdown of buying LSD in quantity.   Navy Use of LSD on the Dark Web The dark web is increasingly popular for purchasing illegal substances. The US Navy has now noticed this trend with their staff. Read to learn more.   Having Sex on LSD: What You Need to Know Can you have sex on LSD? Read our guide to learn everything about sex on acid, from lowered inhibitions to LSD users quotes on sex while tripping.   A Drug That Switches off an LSD Trip A pharmaceutical company is developing an “off-switch” drug for an LSD trip, in the case that a bad trip can happen. Some would say there is no such thing.   Queen of Hearts: An Interview with Liz Elliot on Tim Leary and LSD The history of psychedelia, particularly the British experience, has been almost totally written by men. Of the women involved, especially those who were in the thick of it, little has been written either by or about them. A notable exception is Liz Elliot.   LSD Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety LSD, Lysergic acid diethylamide, or just acid is one of the most important psychedelics ever discovered. What did history teach us?   Microdosing LSD & Common Dosage Explained Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing LSD.   LSD Resources Curious to learn more about LSD? This guide includes comprehensive LSD resources containing books, studies and more.   LSD as a Spiritual Aid There is common consent that the evolution of mankind is paralleled by the increase and expansion of consciousness. From the described process of how consciousness originates and develops, it becomes evident that its growth depends on its faculty of perception. Therefore every means of improving this faculty should be used.   Legendary LSD Blotter Art: A Hidden Craftsmanship Have you ever heard of LSD blotter art? Explore the trippy world of LSD art and some of the top artists of LSD blotter art.   LSD and Exercise: Does it Work? LSD and exercise? Learn why high-performing athletes are taking hits of LSD to improve their overall potential.   Jan Bastiaans Treated Holocaust Survivors with LSD Dutch psychiatrist, Jan Bastiaans administered LSD-assisted therapy to survivors of the Holocaust. A true war hero and pioneer of psychedelic-therapy.   LSD and Spiritual Awakening I give thanks for LSD, which provided the opening that led me to India in 1971 and brought me to Neem Karoli Baba, known as Maharajji. Maharajji is described by the Indians as a “knower of hearts.”   How LSD is Made: Everything You Need to Know Ever wonder how to make LSD? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how LSD is made.   How to Store LSD: Best Practices Learn the best way to store LSD, including the proper temperature and conditions to maximize how long LSD lasts when stored.   Bicycle Day: The Discovery of LSD Every year on April 19th, psychonauts join forces to celebrate Bicycle Day. Learn about the famous day when Albert Hoffman first discovered the effects of LSD.   Cary Grant: A Hollywood Legend On LSD Cary Grant was a famous actor during the 1930’s-60’s But did you know Grant experimented with LSD? Read our guide to learn more.   Albert Hofmann: LSD — My Problem Child Learn about Albert Hofmann and his discovery of LSD, along with the story of Bicycle Day and why it marks a historic milestone.   Babies are High: What Does LSD Do To Your Brain What do LSD and babies have in common? Researchers at the Imperial College in London discover that an adult’s brain on LSD looks like a baby’s brain.   1P LSD: Effects, Benefits, Safety Explained 1P LSD is an analogue of LSD and homologue of ALD-25. Here is everything you want to know about 1P LSD and how it compares to LSD.   Francis Crick, DNA & LSD Type ‘Francis Crick LSD’ into Google, and the result will be 30,000 links. Many sites claim that Crick (one of the two men responsible for discovering the structure of DNA), was either under the influence of LSD at the time of his revelation or used the drug to help with his thought processes during his research. Is this true?   What Happens If You Overdose on LSD? A recent article presented three individuals who overdosed on LSD. Though the experience was unpleasant, the outcomes were remarkably positive.

The Ayahuasca Experience
Ayahuasca is both a medicine and a visionary aid. You can employ ayahuasca for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual repair, and you can engage with the power of ayahuasca for deeper insight and realization. If you consider attainment of knowledge in the broadest perspective, you can say that at all times, ayahuasca heals.


Trippy Talk: Meet Ayahuasca with Sitaramaya Sita and PlantTeachers
Sitaramaya Sita is a spiritual herbalist, pusangera, and plant wisdom practitioner formally trained in the Shipibo ayahuasca tradition.


The Therapeutic Value of Ayahuasca
My best description of the impact of ayahuasca is that it’s a rocket boost to psychospiritual growth and unfolding, my professional specialty during my thirty-five years of private practice.


Microdosing Ayahuasca: Common Dosage Explained
What is ayahuasca made of and what is considered a microdose? Explore insights with an experienced Peruvian brewmaster and learn more about this practice.


Ayahuasca Makes Neuron Babies in Your Brain
Researchers from Beckley/Sant Pau Research Program have shared the latest findings in their study on the effects of ayahuasca on neurogenesis.


The Fatimiya Sufi Order and Ayahuasca
In this interview, the founder of the Fatimiya Sufi Order,  N. Wahid Azal, discusses the history and uses of plant medicines in Islamic and pre-Islamic mystery schools.


Consideration Ayahuasca for Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Research indicates that ayahuasca mimics mechanisms of currently accepted treatments for PTSD. In order to understand the implications of ayahuasca treatment, we need to understand how PTSD develops.


Brainwaves on Ayahuasca: A Waking Dream State
In a study researchers shared discoveries showing ingredients found in Ayahuasca impact the brainwaves causing a “waking dream” state.


Cannabis and Ayahuasca: Mixing Entheogenic Plants
Cannabis and Ayahuasca: most people believe they shouldn’t be mixed. Read this personal experience peppered with thoughts from a pro cannabis Peruvian Shaman.


Ayahuasca Retreat 101: Everything You Need to Know to Brave the Brew
Ayahuasca has been known to be a powerful medicinal substance for millennia. However, until recently, it was only found in the jungle. Word of its deeply healing and cleansing properties has begun to spread across the world as many modern, Western individuals are seeking spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being. More ayahuasca retreat centers are emerging in the Amazon and worldwide to meet the demand.


Ayahuasca Helps with Grief
A new study published in psychopharmacology found that ayahuasca helped those suffering from the loss of a loved one up to a year after treatment.


Ayahuasca Benefits: Clinical Improvements for Six Months
Ayahuasca benefits can last six months according to studies. Read here to learn about the clinical improvements from drinking the brew.


Ayahuasca Culture: Indigenous, Western, And The Future
Ayahuasca has been use for generations in the Amazon. With the rise of retreats and the brew leaving the rainforest how is ayahuasca culture changing?


Ayahuasca Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
The Amazonian brew, Ayahuasca has a long history and wide use. Read our guide to learn all about the tea from its beginnings up to modern-day interest.


Ayahuasca and the Godhead: An Interview with Wahid Azal of the Fatimiya Sufi Order
Wahid Azal, a Sufi mystic of The Fatimiya Sufi Order and an Islamic scholar, talks about entheogens, Sufism, mythology, and metaphysics.


Ayahuasca and the Feminine: Women’s Roles, Healing, Retreats, and More
Ayahuasca is lovingly called “grandmother” or “mother” by many. Just how feminine is the brew? Read to learn all about women and ayahuasca.

What Is the Standard of Care for Ketamine Treatments?
Ketamine therapy is on the rise in light of its powerful results for treatment-resistant depression. But, what is the current standard of care for ketamine? Read to find out.

What Is Dissociation and How Does Ketamine Create It?
Dissociation can take on multiple forms. So, what is dissociation like and how does ketamine create it? Read to find out.

Having Sex on Ketamine: Getting Physical on a Dissociative
Curious about what it could feel like to have sex on a dissociate? Find out all the answers in our guide to sex on ketamine.

Special K: The Party Drug
Special K refers to Ketamine when used recreationally. Learn the trends as well as safety information around this substance.

Kitty Flipping: When Ketamine and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Read to explore the mechanics of kitty flipping.

Ketamine vs. Esketamine: 3 Important Differences Explained
Ketamine and esketamine are used to treat depression. But what’s the difference between them? Read to learn which one is right for you: ketamine vs. esketamine.

Guide to Ketamine Treatments: Understanding the New Approach
Ketamine is becoming more popular as more people are seeing its benefits. Is ketamine a fit? Read our guide for all you need to know about ketamine treatments.

Ketamine Treatment for Eating Disorders
Ketamine is becoming a promising treatment for various mental health conditions. Read to learn how individuals can use ketamine treatment for eating disorders.

Ketamine Resources, Studies, and Trusted Information
Curious to learn more about ketamine? This guide includes comprehensive ketamine resources containing books, studies and more.

Ketamine Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to ketamine has everything you need to know about this “dissociative anesthetic” and how it is being studied for depression treatment.

Ketamine for Depression: A Mental Health Breakthrough
While antidepressants work for some, many others find no relief. Read to learn about the therapeutic uses of ketamine for depression.

Ketamine for Addiction: Treatments Offering Hope
New treatments are offering hope to individuals suffering from addiction diseases. Read to learn how ketamine for addiction is providing breakthrough results.

Microdosing Ketamine & Common Dosages Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing ketamine.

How to Ease a Ketamine Comedown
Knowing what to expect when you come down from ketamine can help integrate the experience to gain as much value as possible.

How to Store Ketamine: Best Practices
Learn the best ways how to store ketamine, including the proper temperature and conditions to maximize how long ketamine lasts when stored.

How To Buy Ketamine: Is There Legal Ketamine Online?
Learn exactly where it’s legal to buy ketamine, and if it’s possible to purchase legal ketamine on the internet.

How Long Does Ketamine Stay in Your System?
How long does ketamine stay in your system? Are there lasting effects on your body? Read to discover the answers!

How Ketamine is Made: Everything You Need to Know
Ever wonder how to make Ketamine? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how Ketamine is made.

Colorado on Ketamine: First Responders Waiver Programs
Fallout continues after Elijah McClain. Despite opposing recommendations from some city council, Colorado State Health panel recommends the continued use of ketamine by medics for those demonstrating “excited delirium” or “extreme agitation”.

Types of Ketamine: Learn the Differences & Uses for Each
Learn about the different types of ketamine and what they are used for—and what type might be right for you. Read now to find out!

Kitty Flipping: When Ketamine and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Read to explore the mechanics of kitty flipping.

MDMA & Ecstasy Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to MDMA has everything you want to know about Ecstasy from how it was developed in 1912 to why it’s being studied today.

How To Get the Most out of Taking MDMA as a Couple
Taking MDMA as a couple can lead to exciting experiences. Read here to learn how to get the most of of this love drug in your relationship.

Common MDMA Dosage & Microdosing Explained
Microdosing, though imperceivable, is showing to have many health benefits–here is everything you want to know about microdosing MDMA.

Having Sex on MDMA: What You Need to Know
MDMA is known as the love drug… Read our guide to learn all about sex on MDMA and why it is beginning to makes its way into couple’s therapy.

How MDMA is Made: Common Procedures Explained
Ever wonder how to make MDMA? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how MDMA is made.

Hippie Flipping: When Shrooms and Molly Meet
What is it, what does it feel like, and how long does it last? Explore the mechanics of hippie flipping and how to safely experiment.

How Cocaine is Made: Common Procedures Explained
Ever wonder how to make cocaine? Read our guide to learn everything you need to know about the procedures of how cocaine is made.

A Christmas Sweater with Santa and Cocaine
This week, Walmart came under fire for a “Let it Snow” Christmas sweater depicting Santa with lines of cocaine. Columbia is not merry about it.

Ultimate Cocaine Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
This guide covers what you need to know about Cocaine, including common effects and uses, legality, safety precautions and top trends today.

NEWS: An FDA-Approved Cocaine Nasal Spray
The FDA approved a cocaine nasal spray called Numbrino, which has raised suspicions that the pharmaceutical company, Lannett Company Inc., paid off the FDA..

The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Bioavailability
What is bioavailability and how can it affect the overall efficacy of a psychedelic substance? Read to learn more.

Cannabis Research Explains Sociability Behaviors
New research by Dr. Giovanni Marsicano shows social behavioral changes occur as a result of less energy available to the neurons. Read here to learn more.

The Cannabis Shaman
If recreational and medical use of marijuana is becoming accepted, can the spiritual use as well? Experiential journalist Rak Razam interviews Hamilton Souther, founder of the 420 Cannabis Shamanism movement…

Cannabis Guide: Effects, Common Uses, Safety
Our ultimate guide to Cannabis has everything you want to know about this popular substances that has psychedelic properties.

Cannabis and Ayahuasca: Mixing Entheogenic Plants
Cannabis and Ayahuasca: most people believe they shouldn’t be mixed. Read this personal experience peppered with thoughts from a procannabis Peruvian Shaman.

CBD-Rich Cannabis Versus Single-Molecule CBD
A ground-breaking study has documented the superior therapeutic properties of whole plant Cannabis extract as compared to synthetic cannabidiol (CBD), challenging the medical-industrial complex’s notion that “crude” botanical preparations are less effective than single-molecule compounds.

Cannabis Has Always Been a Medicine
Modern science has already confirmed the efficacy of cannabis for most uses described in the ancient medical texts, but prohibitionists still claim that medical cannabis is “just a ruse.”

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