The shadow banking system consists of non-bank financial institutions that play an increasingly critical role in lending businesses the money necessary to operate.
The financial intermediaries involved in facilitating the creation of credit across the global financial system, but whose members are not subject to regulatory oversight. The shadow banking system also refers to unregulated activities by regulated institutions.
Examples of intermediaries not subject to regulation include hedge funds, unlisted derivatives and other unlisted instruments. Examples of unregulated activities by regulated institutions include credit default swaps.
Shadow banking institutions are typically intermediaries between investors and borrowers. For example, an institutional investor like a pension fund may be willing to lend money, while a corporation may be searching for funds to borrow. The shadow banking institution will channel funds from the investor(s) to the corporation, profiting either from fees or from the difference in interest rates between what it pays the investor(s) and what it receives from the borrower.
By definition, shadow institutions do not accept deposits like a depository bank and therefore are not subject to the same regulations. Familiar examples of shadow institutions included Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Other complex legal entities comprising the system include hedge funds, SIVs, conduits, money funds, monolines, investment banks, and other non-bank financial institutions
The shadow banking system has escaped regulation primarily because it did not accept traditional bank deposits. As a result, many of the institutions and instruments were able to employ higher market, credit and liquidity risks, and did not have capital requirements commensurate with those risks. Subsequent to the subprime meltdown in 2008, the activities of the shadow banking system came under increasing scrutiny and regulations.