Content from the Brookings-Tsinghua Public Policy Center is now archived. Since October 1, 2020, Brookings has maintained a limited partnership with Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management that is intended to facilitate jointly organized dialogues, meetings, and/or events.
Shadow banking has become an important, and rapidly growing, part of Chinese finance. Much of the reporting and analysis for this sector focuses on the risks of shadow banking, which clearly do exist and are significant. However, the societal benefits, on the whole, appear to be even greater. Therefore, shadow banking should be reformed, to reduce the risks and increase the benefits, not abolished or shrunk simply for the sake of reducing its importance. The right approach is to find the optimum balance of societal benefits and risks, not to aim for an arbitrary size or role.
Further, much of shadow banking results from a web of regulatory, bureaucratic, and policy constraints and pressures on the formal banking sector, as well as some internal weaknesses at the banks. Therefore, reform recommendations arising from a consideration of shadow banking need to extend into the formal banking sector.
This paper will focus on recommendations for regulatory reform and will presume some knowledge of Chinese shadow banking and finance more generally. For those less familiar with the topic, we will start with a summary of the key background points. A much longer analysis from the authors is available at Elliott, Kroeber, and Yu (2015).