Competition & Change , Vol. 24, Issue 3-4, pp. 225-247

When Brussels meets shadow banking- technical complexity, regulatory agency and the reconstruction of the shadow banking chain

At the heart of the last financial crisis stood the shadow banking system, a mesh of financial activities and entities that grew outside of bank balance sheets but with the support of the banking sector. These activities were not regulated or supervised like banks, and they were characterized by high maturity mismatches and leverage. Two prime elements were Money Market Mutual Funds and Asset-Backed Commercial Papers, which jointly performed bank-like functions. This paper sheds light on the fate of these entities post-crisis and the regulatory dynamics at play as policymakers shifted their focus from constraining their activities to drafting a European regulatory infrastructure that delivers both stability and growth. Based on expert interviews and document analysis, we show how European policymakers opened up to private experts during this shift to learn about the technical complexity of Money Market Mutual Funds and Asset-Backed Commercial Papers, but in the end were restricted in their efforts to craft such regulation due to competing national factions and the legislative time pressure at the European level. We argue that the process was heavily influenced by, first, nationally held visions about the future role of financial markets that came to the fore at pivotal moments during the negotiations, and, second, the specific European institutional set-up and its electoral cycle.