Populists should be terrified at the thought of Wal-Mart getting into banking

Unlike the coastal populists of the old-school left, of course, heartland populists on the right see themselves reflected in Walmart’s customer base. But even more so, they identify themselves with the customers and proprietors of the small-town small businesses Walmart’s inexorable growth destroys.

Walmart’s expansion into banking makes the company more of a villain in this regard, not less. If there’s one financial institution a Tea Partier loves, it’s the independent local bank, with its strong balance sheet, modest reach, and its willingness to conduct business on the basis of personal trust, not Human Resources policies and corporate compliance.

In short, the new, informal Bank of Walmart augurs an unprecedented concentration and commingling of corporate, financial, and regulatory affairs. And it does so by pulling the whole banking system toward making a permanent revenue stream out of America’s dependent class.