Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is Dodd-Frank reviving the Shadow Banks? - The Curious Capitalist - TIME.com

They're back.

In the past few months, it appears, shadow banks, financial firms that make loans but aren't actual banks, seem to be making a come back. In case you have forgotten about these things already, shadow banks are financial firms, like hedge funds or money market funds or even insurance companies, that aren't real banks - no deposits, no branches, no ATMs - but make loans nonetheless. And, oh yeah, they might have caused the financial crisis.

Paul Krugman said, shortly after the financial crisis was over, that one of the main things financial reform must do was to bring "non-bank banking out of the shadows." But Dodd-Frank, according to some recent reports, is doing exactly the opposite. Here's why:

Earlier this month, the NYT's Dealbook reported that a number of start-ups were turning to hedge funds to get loans after being rejected by their bank. The company in the article Rentech, which is in the clean energy business, got $100 million loan from a hedge fund. The NYT says the business was moving to hedge funds because banks were worried about making risky loans. But an article in Financial Times today puts the revival of shawdow banking square at the feet of Dodd-Frank.

Many believe, along with Wes Edens, founder of Fortress Investment Group, that this is the golden age of non-bank financial companies; a lot of smaller companies and individuals need credit but rather than do it through banks hamstrung by regulation, they can provide it far more profitably and flexibly through non-banks.


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