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经济寒冬之下 影子银行跌落熊市

大家都知道,今年对能源股来说是糟糕透顶的一年。不过还有一个产业今年过的也并不如意,那就是影子银行。

“影子银行”是由Pimco前任经济学家Paul McCulley在2007年发明的术语,专指非传统型借贷公司,现在这一词汇已经泛指各种不同的金融公司,比如在线贷款发起公司、抵押贷款金融公司、货币市场共同基金、对冲基金、传统典当行和高利贷公司等等。

对于公开上市交易的影子银行,全行业在今年都处于熊市。按照Keefe, Bruyette & Woods的分析来看,影子银行平均跌幅超过20%。这一情况比其它金融股更加糟糕;本年度截止到现在,罗素3000金融服务指数下跌幅度超过3%。在这些影子银行中,最引人关注的就是OnDeck Capital和LendingClub,这两家公司一年前上市的时候还信誓旦旦,可2015年的跌幅都已经超过了50%。

影子银行体系涉及的公司类型很多,而且它们都面临一系列更不相同的问题。尽管如此,我们仍能发现问题的共通之处,那就是低迷。KBW的Fred Cannon和Allyson Boyd表示:美联储通过量化宽松政策实施终结了资产购买计划,这有可能导致对能源信贷疲软的担忧波及到其他部门,并引发其他监管机构的警告。

这些都是难以逾越的巨大障碍。石油价格的持续低迷和能源公司的债务问题在理论上会有结束的一天。但是具体什么时候结束却不得而知。可以想象,事情可能会由此继续恶化,伴随着危机蔓延到具有潜在风险的信贷市场的其他角落。量化宽松政策不会立刻回归,而且即使该政策能迅速实施,估计它也只能解决金融系统中的部分危机。

显然,监管机构才刚刚开始关注影子银行体系。如同股市中的“暗池交易”,如果公司被贴上“影子银行”的标签,那么很有可能会接受更加严格的监管,因为这是一种利用修辞手法来投机取巧的行为——调查“影子银行”和“暗池交易”的检察官与政治家比那些调查“非传统型借贷公司”和“另类电子交易场所”的人,听起来更加果敢。

例如,加州的商业监管部门正在调查市场上14家所谓的借贷公司的做法。货币监管办公室指出那些金融公司不吸收存款,但是贷款规模却迅猛增长,并且它警告银行要监视风险集中爆发的可能,同时还补充道这将会是“我们下一步的重点监管内容。”巴塞尔银行监管委员会正在审查“阶梯式”风险,这一风险会迫使常规贷款人向他们平常合作的影子银行发出求救信号。据Compass Point分析员分析,即使是调查恐怖分子的融资活动都有可能引发风险。

像On Deck和LendingClub这样的在线借贷机构,尤其是那些看起来像是影子银行类型的机构更会受到来自监管机构的仔细审查,因为他们的交易对象是顾客和小企业。然而,监管机构并不是唯一对此感兴趣的机构。每一家公司都与至少一家大型银行建立起合作关系,因此不难想象有一天这些公司会被大银行吞并。

在今年的股价暴跌后,与纯粹的科技公司相比,这些游走在科技和金融领域的公司拥有的市价比有形资产的价值看起来会很廉价,但相较于金融公司又不显得那么便宜。到底哪一个才是事实真相?或许旁观者最有发言权。那么,如果银行是最有可能的投标人,他们可能会观望这些公司接下来是否更加便宜。而且伴随利率上升,监管力度的加大和无处不在的新颖竞争,今年很可能在影子银行中出现绝佳的收购机会,这种可能性在明年会更大。

此专栏不一定反映Bloomberg LP及其所有人的观点。

The terrible, no-good very bad year for energy stocks is no secret to anyone, but there's a whole other batch of ugliness that you may have missed: the shadow banking system.

"Shadow bank" is a term coined by former Pimco economist Paul McCulley in 2007 to refer to nontraditional lenders, and it has been applied to a wide variety of firms that may not seem like they belong in the same boat otherwise, everything from online loan originators, mortgage-finance companies, money-market mutual funds and hedge funds to good old-fashioned pawn shops and loan sharks.

As for shadow banks that are publicly traded, the industry is in a bear market this year, with average declines of more than 20 percent when considering the firms that analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods consider to be shadow banks. That's way worse than the rest of the financial stocks; the Russell 3000 Financial Services Index is down less than 3 percent year to date. Among those in the shadows sticking out like sore thumbs are OnDeck Capital and LendingClub, both of which went public with great promise not much more than a year ago but are down more than 50 percent in 2015.

So many different companies are considered to be part of the shadow banking system, all facing a plethora of issues, that it's hard to paint them with the same brush. Still, some common themes emerge for the slump, according to KBW's Fred Cannon and Allyson Boyd: the end of the Federal Reserve's asset purchases through quantitative easing, concern that weakness in energy credit may spread to other sectors and warnings from regulators.

Those are all big hurdles to jump. The rout in oil prices and the debt of energy companies will theoretically end one day. But who knows when? Conceivably, it could get even uglier from here, with contagion to other corners of the credit-market potentially worsening. Quantitative easing is unlikely to come back soon, and if it does, it'll presumably only be resurrected to clean up a mess in the financial system.

And when it comes to regulators, it's clear they've only just started poking around in the shadows. Like "dark pools" in the stock market, firms slapped with a "shadow banking" label may be at risk of heightened scrutiny because of the simple magic of rhetoric -- prosecutors and politicians who investigate "shadow banks" and "dark pools" sound a whole lot braver than those who go after "nontraditional lenders" and "alternative electronic trading venues."

For example, California's Department of Business Oversight is looking at the practices of 14 so-called marketplace lenders. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency noted the explosion of growth in loans to financial firms that don't take deposits and warned banks to monitor the concentration risk, adding it will "be a focus of our supervision strategies going forward." The Basel Committee on Bank Supervision is examining "step-in" risks that could force regulated lenders to come to the rescue of shadow banking firms with which they do business. Even investigations into financing to terrorists may pose a risk, according to Compass Point analysts.

Online lenders like On Deck and LendingClub, especially, seem to be among the type of shadow banks that may face more scrutiny from regulators because they deal with consumers and small businesses. However, regulators won't be the only ones interested. Each firm has already struck a partnership with at least one big bank, so it's not too farfetched to think they could get a takeover bid one day.

After the plunge in their shares this year, these firms that exist somewhere in the shadows between the technology and financial sectors have price-to-tangible-book values that make them look cheap compared with technology firms but less cheap compared with financial firms. Which one is it? Well, the answer may be in the eye of the beholder. So if banks are the most likely bidders, they may wait to see if they get much cheaper. And with rising interest rates, increased regulatory scrutiny and fresh competition everywhere, there's a good chance some of the bargains that emerged in the shadows this year will be even greater next year.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.


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