mBank-CASE Seminar Proceedings No. 160: Financing for the Polish economy: prospects and threats
In a properly functioning economy, finance has important role to play in making main sectors of the economy – production, trade, services – to thrive. One of the most important – and often unappreciated – channels by which finance affects the processes taking place in the real sector is the selection of investment projects. It is banks and financial intermediaries that to a great degree decide which projects are carried out in the economy at a given moment, and which are not. If financial institutions are excessively conservative (which today is often an effect of the tight regulatory environment), they will prefer low-risk projects with high levels of collateral (e.g. mortgage loans). A financial system oriented this way will rarely be a source of problems, but at the same time not inclined to finance innovative projects with high potential to benefit the economy. Thus for any economy, a very important question is whether its regulatory framework smartly balances both of these aspects: financial system safety and the need to take on risk.
When analyzing the functioning of the financial system, it’s worth noting the gradual blurring of certain traditional boundaries. While decades ago households were the main source of savings in the economy, and the borrowers were enterprises and the public sector, today both households and companies are on both sides, as suppliers and receivers of capital. The boundary between the functioning of banks and capital markets is also increasingly blurred. Today banks operate broadly through the capital market, both as acquirers of securities and as issuers.
One area that has been developing dynamically in recent years is the flow of financial resources bypassing traditional intermediaries: direct lending through the peer-to-peer (P2P - direct financing of a project by business partners) and crowdfunding platforms (fundraising by collecting money online).