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Economic Perspectives, Vol. 7, No. January/February, 1983
What Is a Bank?

In a well-known U.S. Supreme Court opinion on pornography, Associate Justice Potter Stewart wrote:


... criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not attempt to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.


This "know it when I see it" principle has some adherents in the financial community, particularly with regard to the ambiguities surrounding the question, "What is a bank?"

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