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Current Scholarship
Money and the ‘Level Playing Field’: The Epistemic Problem of European Financial Market Integration

Author: Troels Krarup

Financial market integration processes in the European Union (EU) are characterised by an epistemic problem of economic theory. This problem encompasses what ‘the market’ is, how it is to be ‘integrated’, and the nature and role of ‘money’ as infrastructure of the fully integrated market. The EU’s legal framework has imported this epistemic problem along with the competitive conception of the market as described in economic theory – as a ‘level playing field’ for private exchange, under free, fair and ideally unrestrained competition. It manifests itself in European financial market integration processes, as exemplified in the article, via two otherwise disconnected areas of European Central Bank (ECB) activity: (a) the provision of central bank credit for the purpose of financial transaction settlement in the Eurozone; and (b) the conduct of ordinary monetary policy in the Eurozone. While the problem can be stabilised through legal, technical and other means, it remains latent, and may manifest itself again in unexpected ways, as happened in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Thus, contrary to ideologies that are widely understood as more or less coherent systems of doctrines, epistemic problems are characterised by specific tensions, contradictions and conceptual uncertainties.

Current Scholarship
The (impossible) repo trinity: the political economy of repo markets

Author: Daniela Gabor
In its capacity as debt issuer, the state has played a growing role in financial life over the last 30 years. To examine this role and connect it to shadow banking, the paper develops the concept of the ‘repo trinity’, which captures a set of policy objectives that central banks outlined after the 1998 Russian crisis, the first systemic crisis of collateral-based finance. The repo trinity connected financial stability with liquid government bond markets and free repo markets. It further reinforced the dominance of the US government bond market as institutional template for states adjusting to a world of independent central banks, market-based financing and global competition for liquidity. Central banks and the Financial Stability Board recognized the impossible nature of the trinity after 2008, attributing cyclical leverage (financial instability) and elusive liquidity in collateral markets to deregulated repo markets, markets systemic to shadow banking. The new approach triggered radical changes in crisis central banking but has not powered significant regulatory interventions in the absence of an alternative mode of organizing government bond markets.

Daniela Gabor (2016) The (impossible) repo trinity: the political economy of repo markets, Review of International Political Economy, 23:6, 967-1000

Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09692290.2016.1207699