The Logic of Pottersville

A person in a face mask walks through an almost empty Times Square in New York City as the coronavirus outbreak continues, March 18, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
It is a wonderful life.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE I n director Frank Capra’s 1946 holiday classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life, an initial bank panic sweeps the small town of Bedford Falls. Small passbook account holders rush to George Bailey’s family-owned Bailey Building and Loan to demand the right to cash out all of their deposits — a sudden run that would destroy the lending cooperative and its ability to issue mortgages or preserve the savings accounts of the small town.

The villain of the story, Henry F. Potter, who is a cash-laden, though miserly rival banker, played brilliantly by Lionel Barrymore, offers to buy up the depositors’ shares in


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