Are Banks Irrelevant?

This is the title of my newest law review article[2], which discusses the future of banking in the United States and globally, looking decades into the future.

As stated in the article's introduction:

[T]he author revisits briefly Wells Fargo’s problems that have tarnished America’s fourth largest and the world’s thirteenth largest bank, with almost $2 trillion in assets—and created what some have characterized as a rogue and lawless financial institution, the largest in the United States if not the world.  He asks whether Wells is an anachronism or dinosaur whose time has passed, along with that of its sister financial institutions.  As branches and checks disappear, and as a “branchless” and “checkless” financial system emerges, what role will traditional banks play in American and global commerce?  Also, what roles will so-called “shadow banks” and “non-banks” play in the future, and how will Congress and America’s financial institution regulators deal with these critical issues, or can they?  In the final analysis, will we live in a world of “bankless” banking?

What is coming will affect every American, and the residents of other countries globally.  Indeed, as I concluded in the article:

As America and other countries move into the “brave new world” of “bankless banking,” query whether every conceivable financial problem of the past may surface again and again: runs on banks and their financial alter egos; panics around the globe; regulators who are helpless to “put out the fires” spreading everywhere; and a global loss of confidence in the “system”?  . . .  [A]ll of this may be set in motion—or at least exacerbated—by events over which none of us have any control. Indeed, a review of past events in economic history is eye-opening and shocking for those who are naïve about what can happen in the future.

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