Cash Today! No Credit Check! Payday Loans! Instant Approval! The signs of check-cashing outlets scream neon along East Anaheim Street in Long Beach, Calif. Their loud colors distract passers-by from a quieter question: Where are the traditional banks in this neighborhood? Where is the Bank of America? The Union Bank of California? The Wells Fargo?

Over the past few decades, check-cashing outlets and payday loan centers have crowded out traditional banks in lower-income neighborhoods. While...

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