Even where local bankers survive, they now perforce float in the direction of the national tide, whether they like it or not. In Texas, Florida, Iowa, and Georgia—where, for generations, the law has prohibited banks from opening branches—the great majority of the local banks are now owned by statewide holding companies.

Nobody has begun to do the social analysis of what is implied—on the ground, close to home—by the homogenization of money and of banking. We are looking once again at one of those trade-offs between efficiency and idiosyncracy that make up the long-running drama of our time, and it puzzles us. What we can say is that we have reached the end of a long era in the uniquely American history of an occupation central to this society. What we must now decide is not what we wish to preserve from a past that is gone, but what we wish to create on a green field.