Reframing Financial Regulation
Charles K. Whitehead
Cornell Law School
February 15, 2010
Boston University Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 1, 2010
Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-026
Financial regulation today is largely framed by traditional business categories. The financial markets, however, have begun to bypass those categories, principally over the last thirty years. Chief among the changes has been convergence in the products and services offered by traditional intermediaries and new market entrants, as well as a shift in capital-raising and risk-bearing from traditional intermediation to the capital markets. The result has been the reintroduction of old problems addressed by (but now beyond the reach of) current regulation, and the rise of new problems that reflect change in how capital and financial risk can now be managed and transferred.
In this Article, I begin to assess the current U.S. approach to financial regulation, in light of recent changes in the financial system, and offer a tentative way forward to address gaps in proposals for regulatory reform. Regulators must focus on the principal problems that financial regulation is intended to address – relating to financial stability and risk-taking – without regard to fixed categories, intermediaries, business models, or functions. Doing so, however, requires a prospective assessment of the markets, a different approach from the reactive process that characterizes much of financial regulation today.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: financial regulation, financial crisis, credit crisis, derivatives, hedge funds, AIG, Bear Stearns, money market funds
JEL Classification: G18, G28, G38, K22
Date posted: August 11, 2009 ; Last revised: February 17, 2010
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