Shadow Banking And The Global Financial Ecosystem

In either case, the fundamental problem we are dealing with is a financial ecosystem that has outgrown the safety net that was put around it many years ago. Today we have new types of savers (cash portfolio managers versus retail depositors), new types of borrowers (risk portfolio managers to fund pensions versus ultimate borrowers to finance investments and consumption) and new types of banks (dealer banks that do securities financing versus traditional banks that finance the real economy more directly via loans) to whom discount window access and deposit insurance do not apply.

These twin pillars of the official safety net were erected around traditional, deposit-funded banks to address retail runs. In contrast, the crisis of 2007–09 was a crisis of institutional runs where cash portfolio managers ran on dealers, and dealers ran on risk portfolio managers. But importantly – as the examples above demonstrate – beyond the institutional façade of the ecosystem it is ultimately real wealth and promises that are at stake.

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