Home >Industry >Big central bank assets jump fastest in 5 years to $21 trillion

The world’s biggest central banks are bulking up their balance sheets this year at the fastest pace since 2011’s European debt crisis to boost lacklustre economic recoveries with asset purchases that are supporting stock and bond prices. The 10 largest lenders now own assets totaling $21.4 trillion, a 10% increase from the end of last year, data collected by Bloomberg show. Their combined holdings grew by 3% or less in both 2015 and 2014. (See chart 1)

The accelerating expansion of central banks’ balance sheets comes as debate rages over whether their asset purchases and continued low interest rates are creating bubbles, especially in the bond market. As the biggest banks’ holdings grew 10.4% this year, the stock gauge gained 3% and the bond benchmark jumped 7.4%. (See chart 2)

How much is $21.4 trillion?

It’s 29% of the size of the world economy as of the end of 2015, double what it was in mid-September 2008, when Lehman Brothers Holdings’ collapse sparked the global financial crisis. (See chart 3)

Almost 75% of the world’s central-bank assets are controlled by policymakers in four places: China, the US, Japan and the Euro zone. The next six—the central banks of Brazil, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, the UK, India and Russia—each account for an average of 2.5%. (See chart 4)

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