China Cools Growth in Wealth Products Worth Trillions of Dollars

(Bloomberg) -- China’s boom in wealth-management products worth trillions of dollars, under scrutiny from regulators because of potential threats to financial stability, is slowing for now.

Outstanding products issued by banks stood at 29.1 trillion yuan ($4.2 trillion) as of March 31, up 18.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the China Banking Regulatory Commission. The growth rate slumped from 53 percent during the same period last year, CBRC said.

WMPs -- popular among individual and corporate investors for their high yields -- have almost tripled in value over the past three years, dominating China’s shadow-banking sector. Regulators have recently stepped up efforts to clamp down on the potential risks.

Even with the slowdown, China’s WMPs are at a record value.

Guo Shuqing, the chairman of the CBRC, said in March that regulators, including the central bank, will draft rules to plug loopholes in regulations for cross-market financial products such as WMPs.

The central bank also started to include off-balance sheet WMPs in its so-called macro prudential assessment framework in the first quarter to better gauge the expansion of credit and potential risks in the financial system.

Meanwhile, domestic interbank assets at Chinese banks fell 1.4 trillion yuan from December to 21.7 trillion yuan as of March, while interbank liabilities declined 1.9 trillion yuan to 30.3 trillion yuan, the CBRC said.