Size of Chinese banks’ off-balance sheet businesses has grown to RMB39.16 trillion16 July, 2012, 17:09. Posted by Zarathustra
Last week’s People’s Bank of China Financial Stability report contains a little statistics which looks unbelievable. We noted few months ago that the size of banking assets for Chinese banks has reached RMB113.3 trillion, which was 239.7% of 2011 nominal GDP. That was a staggeringly large number compared to the West, but as credit markets are more developed in the West, so the comparison of the size of banking assets between Chinese banks and US banks, for example, does not make sense besides for reference.
The shocking number from the Financial Stability report is that the size of banks’ off-balance sheet have grown to a staggeringly large number as well. By the end of 2011, the size of off-balance assets has reached RMB39.16 trillion, or 35.1% of total assets according to the PBOC’s financial stability report, an increased of 17.98% from a year ago. The off-balance sheet business has experienced rapid growth when the PBOC was tightening credit. As credit from formal channels was tightened, banks appeared to have designed ways to circumvent regulations and lend via off-balance sheet vehicles. Entrusted loans, for instance, increased by 29.38%. Meanwhile, the outstanding wealth management products have reached RMB4 trillion.
We are shocked by this number, and this number looks unreal to us (we were hoping it was a misprint and it was actually RMB3.916 trillion instead). The size of off-balance banking assets amounted to 83% of nominal GDP of 2011 on top of the banking assets (presumably on balance sheet) of roughly 239.7% of GDP. We believe that this bit of the banks’ businesses are related to the shadow banking system, which we know very little about, and this number seems to raise more questions than answers regarding to the scale of the shadow banking mess as well as the true scale of debts in China.