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Risk Taking, Liquidity, and Shadow Banking: Curbing Excess While Promoting Growth

A Report by the IMF Monetary and Capital Markets Department on Market Developments and Issues, October 2014:  “The October 2014 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) finds that six years after the start of the crisis, the global economic recovery continues to rely heavily on accommodative monetary policies in advanced economies. Monetary accommodation remains critical in supporting the economy by encouraging economic risk taking in the form of increased real spending by households and greater willingness to invest and hire by businesses. However, prolonged monetary ease may also encourage excessive financial risk taking. Chapter 1 concludes that although economic benefits of monetary ease are becoming more evident in some economies, market and liquidity risks have increased to levels that could compromise financial stability if left unaddressed. The best way to safeguard financial stability and improve the balance between economic and financial risk taking is to put in place policies that enhance the transmission of monetary policy to the real economy—thus promoting economic risk taking—and address financial excesses through well-designed macroprudential measures. Chapter 2 examines the growth of shadow banking around the globe, assessing risks and discussing regulatory responses. Although shadow banking takes vastly different forms within and across countries, some of its key drivers tend to be common to all: search for yield, regulatory circumvention, and demand by institutional investors. The contribution of shadow banks to systemic risks in the financial system is much larger in the United States than in Europe. The chapter calls for a more encompassing (macroprudential) approach to regulation and for enhanced data provision. Chapter 3 discusses how conflicts of interest between bank managers, shareholders, and debt holders can lead to excessive bank risk taking from society’s point of view. It finds that banks with boards of directors independent from management take less risk. There is no clear relation between bank risk and the level of executive compensation, but a better alignment of bankers’ pay with long-term outcomes is associated with less risk.”

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