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Global shadow bank assets in 2018 shrink for 1st time in a decade

Global shadow banking assets in 2018 shrank for the first time in a decade, the Financial Stability Board said in an annual global monitoring report released Jan. 19.

The so-called monitoring universe of nonbank financial intermediation assets declined slightly to US$183.7 trillion in 2018, compared to the year prior, according to the "Global Monitoring Report on Non-Bank Financial Intermediation 2019," which covers data up to the end of 2018 from 29 jurisdictions.

The decline was in part due to stock market declines, which reduced the value of assets held by investment funds globally, according to the report. It added, however, that "the market has since rebounded, generally reversing this trend."

The decline was also due to the fall in the assets of trust companies in China.

While overall shadow banking assets declined in 2018, assets held by broker/dealers and finance companies, concentrated in countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Japan, grew in 2018.

China's core shadow banking activities started to contract in June 2018, in part due to the government's deleveraging campaign launched in 2017 to rein in the once sprawling and under-regulated corner of the financial system.

Despite a slower rate of contraction, China’s core shadow banking activities in November 2019 declined to the lowest level in more than three years, according to the latest data from the People's Bank of China. But as the economy started slowing, and then trade tensions between Beijing and Washington flared up, China loosened its grip on shadow banking activities due to increasing refinancing pressure, especially among small and private companies.

According to the FSB report, global trust companies' assets contracted 10.7% to US$3.9 trillion in 2018. China accounted for 85% of those assets, which fell 14% from a year earlier.

The report also said lending by nonbank financial intermediaries continued growing in 2018, up 3% from the previous year, driven by the euro area. However, banks remained the largest single source of credit globally, up 5.9% year over year.

Total global financial assets grew by 1.4% in 2018, driven largely by banks. Assets of banks increased by 2.8%, while assets of insurance corporations and pension funds remained largely unchanged.