What do commercial banks and savings institutions have in common? One major similarity is deposit insurance. Although frequently overlooked, it is perhaps the most important of all the banking industry's links.

As more nonbank competitors emerge, providing almost identical credit and deposit-like services, we seem to be moving rapidly toward a reality in which deposit insurance and an excessive regulatory burden are banking's only distinguishing characteristics. Surely, we can all do without the regulatory burden. However, deposit insurance has value to banking customers; it is an asset on which our lifeblood depends.

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