Economy Prompts New Look At North Dakota Bank

The Bank of North Dakota, the nation's only state-owned bank, might seem to be a relic. It provides loans to farmers, businesses and students. The bank's president won't take credit for North Dakota's enviably low jobless rate, or the state's budget surplus. But officials in other states are wondering if it is helping North Dakota sail through the national recession.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Our last word in business takes us all the way back to 1919.

North Dakota's grain markets were in a terrible mess. Angry farmers wanted the state to help control the markets and provide low cost farm loans. Hence, the Bank of North Dakota was founded.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

To this day, it remains America's only state-run bank. It still provides loans to farmers, businesses and students, and also helps finance local projects. The bank's president won't take credit for North Dakota's enviably low jobless rate, or the state's budget surplus.

WERTHEIMER: He is getting tons, he says, of inquiries from other states wondering if this relic of populism might help steer their economies to a more sound financial future.

That's the business news on MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

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