Let me begin by discussing why, and in what senses, banks have been regarded as special. The term “bank,” historically and more than ever today, covers a multitude of sins. In practice it refers to a range of very different institutions that may, and do, within legal restraints, engage in a variety of different financial—and even some nonfinancial—activities whether on their own account or in an agency or advisory capacity. But banks have some key distinguishing characteristics in common. In particular they take unsecured deposits from the public at large.1