Do We Really Need Banks Anymore?

As Congress haggles over a plan to rejuvenate the banking system, a central question is going unasked: Does the U.S. economy even need banks?

To many Americans, the idea of a bankless society may seem inconceivable. Not only have banks provided everything from Christmas clubs to car loans, but they have acted as hubs of the community as well. Yet today consumers and businesses can conduct virtually all their banking needs, from opening up a government-guaranteed checking account to getting a mortgage, without ever having to set foot in an actual bank. Now some or all of these services are offered...

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