Shadow banks drive growth in euro area financial assets - ECB

A sign of European Central Bank is seen near their headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, July 15, 2015, a day ahead of their regular meeting. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (Reuters)

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Shadow lenders such as investment funds have driven growth in euro zone financial assets, the European Central Bank said in a report published on Thursday, as traditional banks focussed on repairing their balance sheets after the financial crisis. "Over the past few years, growth in total euro area financial assets has been driven primarily by non-bank financial entities, while total banking assets have rebounded to levels last observed in 2008," the ECB said in the report. Shadow banks including investment and money-market funds as well as other types of non-bank lenders held 23 trillion euros (16.5 trillion pounds) worth of euro area financial assets last year, or 38 percent of the region's total. This was up from 33 percent in 2009. Over the same period, credit institutions saw their share shrink to 48 percent from 55 percent. "The shadow banking sector is an increasingly important provider of funding to the euro area economy," the ECB said. "Shadow banking entities also have an important and growing role in non-bank credit intermediation (and)... are also important providers of bank funding." (Reporting By Francesco Canepa)