Capital Markets, Debt Finance and the EU Capital Markets Union: A law and finance critique

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Vincenzo Bavoso

Contrary to conventional wisdom, this paper contends that the excessive development of capital market finance has been one of the catalysts behind the crises and scandals that have unfolded over the past 15 years. In particular, innovative debt transactions have proven instrumental to the creation of excessive levels of risk-taking and leverage, which have had catastrophic consequences, both at the firm and systemic level.

While much regulation has been enacted in response to these crises, the way in which debt transactions in capital markets are designed and entered into remains largely unregulated. Moreover, regulators have so far neglected the role that leverage and debt creation play in the economy and their consequences for the wider social context. Moreover, the recent policy design in the EU is promoting a renewed implementation of an old design, the Capital Markets Union (CMU). This revolves around disintermediated, market-based forms of financing, which should represent an alternative to the traditionally predominant (in Europe) bank-based financing channel. This paper finds that the European policy design fails to appreciate the dangers associated with capital markets finance and its ensuing debt-creating effects. It argues that, despite some regulatory efforts, a suitable architecture for the regulation of disintermediated capital markets is still missing.

Vincenzo Bavoso is Lecturer in Commercial Law in the School of Law, University of Manchester.