Taking action on shadow banking: avoiding new sources of risk in the financial sector

Published on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 10:20
Posted by Scott Buckler

So that the EU learns all the lessons from the crisis, it is implementing ambitious regulatory reforms in the financial sector in general and in the banking sector in particular

This will contribute to creating a stronger and sounder financial sector at the service of the real economy. As part of these reforms, it is now time to deal with the growing area of non-bank credit activity, or so-called "shadow banking", which has so far not been a prime focus of prudential regulation and supervision.

To a certain extent, shadow banking performs important functions in the financial system. For example it creates additional sources of funding and offers investors alternatives to bank deposits. But it can also pose potential threats to long-term financial stability because unknown sources of risk accumulate in the financial sector and there are potential spill-over effects from the shadow banking sector to the regular banking sector.

In response to invitations by the G20 in Seoul in 2010 and in Cannes in 2011, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) is in the process of developing recommendations on the oversight and regulation of these entities and activities. With today's consultation in the form of a Green Paper, the Commission is participating actively in the ongoing FSB work.

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "The European Union has shown global leadership in implementing ambitious reforms in the area of financial regulation, in particular for banks. What we do not want is for financial activities and entities to circumvent existing and foreseen rules, allowing new sources of risk to accumulate in the financial sector.

That is why we need to better understand what shadow banking actually is and does, and what regulation and supervision may be appropriate, and at what level. We must shed light on all parts of the financial sector."

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