Walkman, can you honestly say there are no pages in your site/s that have no copied content or very thin?
I can honestly say that I have no more than those ranking on top when it's all said and done. In fact i have a very limited number of pages (under 1000,) some have even millions. Trust me, it's impossible to have that many useful pages in my niche, but they got a free pass. I never claimed that I should be #1 or even #12 for a keyword or another, and have also have admitted that they are many better sites (overall) that mine. I do however question a sitewide Panda penalty, not based on content, and for many keywords I should rank near the top every once in a while. Getting more Google referrals than type-ins, when others are getting tens of thousands Google referrals a day, is not much to ask, no? I work on my site every single day, I am not trying to cheat anyone.
but would that mean that google could essentially feasibly start Google.com/loans, and offer their own loans? Suppressing all other loan companies and banks in the SERPs?
Google has already done that and that's on top of all ads. Google is making everyone compete on adwords, margins are squeezed and Google wins. No affiliate can compete with the original since the affiliates have rent, salaries and expenses to pay. But banks and insurance companies can compete with each other to give Google as much money as possible. As a bonus, Google also destroys many competitors and weaken even the strongest ones. Why should Google promote a loan /insurance /credit card /travel search engine only to help users?
I have never spent more than a few $100 in adwords amonth, yet I have gotten cold calls from Google. Imagine what went on with the Geico, Progressive...and Bank of America accounts. Imagine the winks and the nods from the people that really matter at Google to convince them to spend more on Google and less on magazines, TV, or radio. Billions are at stake, they don't get the boilerplate email.