February 26, 2014
You read it here first!
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

Late last month I posted my colleague Mehrsa Baradaran's thoughts on the US Postal Service moving into banking.  She'd written an article on the subject 2 years ago, and the US Postal Service seemed to be warming up to the idea. Since then, Mehrsa has written a NYT op-ed on the subject and, most recently, has a short piece up in the Harvard Law Review Online Forum: It's Time for Postal Banking.

From the introduction: 

... government support and even subsidies to enable postal banking in the United States are appropriate and justifiable.  First, banking-related subsidies are grounded in historical practice, as demonstrated by government support for credit unions, savings and loans, and student loan associations.  Postal banking derives from these longstanding practices, but broadens the scope to include the poor, not just the middle class.  Further, state support of banking throughout U.S. history has operated much like a social contract: the state supports the banking system in a variety of ways and, in return, banks serve as credit intermediaries, providing the populace with access to loans and financial services.  Thus, subsidies for banking have been justified because they provide a benefit to all citizens.  Mainstream banks have met part of their obligation, but a large portion of the population, namely the poor, has been left out.  It is time, then, for the government itself to meet the demand for credit.

Go read the whole thing!

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