5 Oct 2015

BIS Transactions in 2014 - Country by country breakdown

In my last post, I listed the 50 biggest players in the $11 quadrillion of financial transactions listed in the latest version of the Bank for International Settlement's annual Statistics on Payment, Clearing and Settlement Systems.

In this post, I have broken down the figures according to country, and I have provided the figures for all years since 2006.

As you can see, the number one country is the US, with nearly $3.2 quadrillion in transactions - the highest total ever, with the exception of the bumper year of 2007 when US transactions exceeded $3.4 quadrillion.

Next comes CLS - which isn't even a country -  with nearly $1.3 quadrillion.

Germany is next on the list. But for some reason, it's transactions dropped a lot from a very impressive $1.46 quadrillion in 2013 to less than $900 trillion in 2014 (hence the blue colour). I'll try and analyse what happened in a later post.

The UK comes in at number 5, but here again, the figures simply cannot be serious.  When you can see that transactions in the UK exceeded $2 quadrillion in 2008, the current total of just under $800 trillion is obviously wrong and easily explained in part by the fact that LCH.Clearnet Ltd, which did $641 trillion in 2014, is mysteriously invisible to people at BIS. They similarly seem unable to find anything about transactions on the London Stock Exchange - also "nav" for several years, despite publishing data on the web. Oh well.....

Then we have the EU, whose large scale transfer system such as TARGET2 handle very large number - in the case the BIS figures didn't have the numbers for 2014, which is why I used the figures for 2013.

The new kid on the block at number 6 is China. Their transactions have quadrupled from a mere $134 trillion in 2006 to $727 trillion in 2014.

Other impressive numbers are provided for Belgium which, despite it's relatively small size, managed to handle $565 trillion last year. It's a shame that BIS don't report figures for Belgium's neighbour Luxembourg. I bet that with outfits like Clearstream operating from Luxembourg, the numbers are probably mouth-watering - at least for anyone interested in introducing a Financial Transaction Tax. According to Clearstream's website, "For 2014, Clearstream processed 43.65 million international transactions, an increase of 6% compared to 2013." Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the value of those transactions. If anyone knows, do send me a message.

It's interesting to note that two of the countries that you might have thought would be very active in financial markets, namely Switzerland and Singapore, are actually quite modest, clocking up a mere $45.9 trillion and $15.5 trillion respectively. I suppose that could be because the BIS's policy of only reporting "selected" players may mask much of the activity in such countries.

I suspect that there is probably only one way to find out. Politicians should decide that ALL financial transactions should be reported - wherever they occur. Is it really too much to ask? 

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