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Inside the World's Shadow Banking System

Assets held by money market funds, private equity firms and other entities that make up the so-called shadow banking system stood at $67 trillion worldwide at the end of last year, according to new report by the Financial Stability Board. Supporters credit shadow banks with providing valuable services; critics warn that their lack of oversight poses systemic risk. One certainty is that they're big, with half as many assets as conventional banks, by FSB's count. Here's a look at how it defines shadow banks.

(Image: Thinkstock)
Hedge Funds Hedge Funds Assets: $1.8 trillion worldwide

These lightly regulated investment vehicles have gained widespread popularity among institutional investors and wealthy individuals worldwide.

(Image: Bloomberg News)
Private Equity Firms Private Equity Firms Assets: $3 trillion worldwide

Typically structured as partnerships, private equity funds seek to unlock unrealized value by acquiring underperforming private companies or public ones that they then take private and restructure.

(Image: Bloomberg News)
Investment Companies Investment Companies Assets: $24 trillion in worldwide 2011

These include mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and other investment vehicles.

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Money Market Funds Money Market Funds Assets: $2.5 trillion in the U.S.

These short-term fixed income investments compete with bank deposits but provide no government guarantees.

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Government-Sponsored Entities Government-Sponsored Entities Assets: Fannie Mae ($3.2 trillion), Freddie Mac ($2 trillion) and the Federal Home Loan Banks ($748 billion)

GSEs offer financing to the U.S. housing market that has been characterized as both lowering the cost of financing and destabilizing the market. The GSEs were not included in the FSB report.

(Image: Bloomberg News)
Structured Finance Vehicles Structured Finance Vehicles Assets: $5 trillion worldwide

These investment vehicles create securities from pools of assets such as loans, credit card receivables and bonds.

(Image: Bloomberg News)
Credit Intermediaries Credit Intermediaries Assets: $9 trillion worldwide

These companies include mortgage and loan brokerages. They facilitate the issuance of credit by acting as clearinghouses, offering reserve services and cashing checks.

(Image: Thinkstock)
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Assets held by money market funds, private equity firms and other entities that make up the so-called shadow banking system stood at $67 trillion worldwide at the end of last year, according to new report by the Financial Stability Board. Supporters credit shadow banks with providing valuable services; critics warn that their lack of oversight poses systemic risk. One certainty is that they're big, with half as many assets as conventional banks, by FSB's count. Here's a look at how it defines shadow banks.

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