The Bank of North Dakota may seem like a relic. It has no ATMs, doesn't issue credit cards and tends only a few thousand checking and savings accounts.
Yet some wonder if the nation's only state-owned bank is helping North Dakota sail through the recession. The state has the country's lowest unemployment rate, soaring oil production and a robust budget surplus.
The bank serves as an economic development agency that lessens the loan risks of private banks and helps them finance larger projects. It offers cheap loans to farmers, students and businesses, and had almost $4 billion in assets for 2009.
Advocates include Florida and Oregon gubernatorial candidates, and a report for Vermont lawmakers says the idea has "considerable merit."
On the Net:
Bank of North Dakota: http://www.banknd.nd.gov/
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