Hating Wall Street is an American tradition that dates back even to the days when Thomas Jefferson cursed that money lover Alexander Hamilton. And for centuries, the complaints about it have largely stayed the same: It does nothing! It creates chaos! It’s a parasite that sucks hardworking Americans dry! (Or something to that effect.) But these are distortions of a fundamentally beneficial business. The country’s largest investment banks, commercial banks and a few big insurance companies (what we generally refer to as Wall Street) play the crucial role of intermediation ”” matching borrowers with lenders. Most of the time, the industry does this extremely well (though in the case of matching homeowners’ debt to the global financial system, too enthusiastically). Perhaps the best way to really appreciate what Wall Street does is to imagine life without it….