Many people think we do. Martin Sloan was very critical of the problems in our financial system. He said that low interest rates may be better than high interest rates. "Because I don't want to see the financial system collapse." And in the next sentence, he says there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the savers of America to the spenders of America.
But do we need a financial system? First of all, this is not an argument for a total barter system. Money would still serve as a medium of exchange.
One of our best computer science students went on to earn an MBA from a prestigious University and work at a hedge fund in Connecticut. I asked her what social value the hedge fund gives us. She was unable to come up with one. Another Computer Science students has gone on to a financial engineering degree. After over a year there, I asked what purpose a financial system serves. Does leverage have a value to society? He could not give one; he just said that it is a way that some people can make more money than following natural growth.
I asked one of our finance students the same question on the need for all the financial markets and products? And he conceded that it was reasonable and could not argue with me either. I of course am in favor of a share economy with no debt or derivatives. The only financial instrument is a share of the revenue. One is not allowed to sell it, only enjoy the income stream as it comes in. but as I argued elsewhere, firms could sell new shares and bonds directly to the consumer without intermediaries. There would be no secondary market; what you bought you own and gets passed on to one's heirs.
And I asked one of our accountancy faculty. He said that people just expect there to be a financial system, but he could not say that we could not do reasonably well with out one.