The outcome of banking gone wild is now well-known. Less obvious are the dramatic changes banks underwent since the 1980s that concluded with the collapse of 2008.
Every business, every corporation, and every consumer relies on banking in one way or another. That makes it a special industry, and it's why banks receive special treatment like backing from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It also makes it an industry that should be at least somewhat anchored to the rest of the economy. When the economy does well, banking does well; when the economy does poorly, so do banks.
There was nothing glamorous about banking for most of the post- World War II period. The leaders made fortunes and gained power -- as leaders of all industries do -- yet the lower workers were just average Joes making average wages.
Source: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's), measuringworth.org, author's calculations.
These three charts don't tell the whole story, of course. You can gab away about how the Fed, Fannie and