China’s banking system has surpassed that of the eurozone to become the world’s largest by assets, a sign both of the country’s increased influence in world finance and its reliance on debt to drive growth since the global financial crisis. Chinese bank assets hit $33tn at the end of 2016, versus $31tn for the eurozone, $16tn for the US and $7tn for Japan. While China’s gross domestic product surpassed the EU’s economic bloc in 2011 at market exchange rates, its banking system did not take over the top spot until the end of 2016, Financial Times analysis shows. The lag reflects Beijing’s increased “financial deepening” – the term for the growth of a country’s financial system relative to gross domestic product. This has been fueled by an extraordinary increase in bank lending since 2008, when the government unleashed aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus to buffer the impact of the global crisis.
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