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Updating Total Assets of PDBs and DFIs for the Fiscal Year 2018–2021



Updating Total Assets of PDBs and DFIs for the Fiscal Year 2018 – 2021:

 A Preliminary Analysis on their Countercyclical Role during Covid-19

Jiajun Xu1, Régis Marodon2, Wenna Zhong1, Hanyue Deng1, Jean-Baptiste Jacouton2

1. Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University

2. French Development Agency


In the first quarter of 2023, the Public Development Banks (PDBs) and Development Financing Institutions (DFIs) database updates the total assets of PDBs and DFIs for the fiscal year 2021 (FY21) and releases the time-series data of total assets for the past four fiscal years 2018-2021. Currently, the PDBs and DFIs database includes 528 PDBs and DFIs from 155 countries and economies, among which 333 PDBs and DFIs disclose the data on total assets of FY2021 which add up to 22.4 trillion dollars.


Our data collection method combines natural language processing and manual data collection, with rigorous quality control.  To collect publicly available financial data as comprehensively and accurately as possible, we have conducted three rounds of quality control, including a cross-checking, a double-checking and final verification by research specialists, a peer senior researcher and co-principal investigators from the Institute of New Structural Economics and French Development Agency respectively.


From 2018 to 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic dragged the global economy into a recession. According to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, the world’s real GDP (measured in constant 2015 prices in U.S. dollars) annual growth rate dropped from 3.3% in 2018, 2.6% in 2019, to -3.1% in 2020.


 During the economic downturn, commercial banks and private capital usually act in a procyclical manner. In times of Covid-19, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) daily flows tracker estimates that 103 billion dollars were drawn from emerging market economics between January and May 2020, which has been faster and more incisive than observed in recent years [4].


In contrast to the procyclical behavior of private capital, PDBs and DFIs may play an important countercyclical role during periods of financial instability [2]. For instance, national development banks increased their lending and guarantees to compensate for the reduction in lending by private banks and institutions during the global financial crisis of 2007/08 [1]. During the Covid-19 pandemic, case studies show that PDBs and DFIs also actively provided supportive credit, non-repayable grants, and expert advice, shifting resources into essential public areas that private capital is unwilling or unable to do to combat the economic and health crisis [3].


Our time-series data may help to conduct a large-N regression analysis to test whether and why PDBs and DFIs play a countercyclical role during the recent global pandemic crisis. Even though total assets are not a direct measurement of loans provided by PDBs and DFIs, it provides a relevant proxy for a preliminary analysis. In addition, a more solid analysis needs to take into account exchange rate fluctuations and inflation. Our first-cut analysis on the size of total assets in current USD reveals that an upward trend in the aggregate total assets of PDBs and DFIs, rising from 17.2 trillion dollars in 2018, 17.8 trillion dollars in 2019, to 22.3 trillion dollars in 2020, 22.4 trillion USD in 2021. Note that due to modifications in the list of PDBs and DFIs and the update of total assets, the aggregate total assets may slightly differ from the previous disclosure. Additionally, the average growth rate per institution of PDBs and DFIs’ total assets increased from 4.8% in 2019, to 26.9% in 2020, and then decreased to 5.7% in 2021. Among 374 PDBs and DFIs that release the data on total assets in our database, 292 institutions (78.1%) had an asset increase between 2019 to 2020. This indicates a prevalent upward trend in total assets of PDBs and DFIs during the pandemic. One salient example is the U.S. Small Business Administration, whose total assets in 2020 are 52.7 times higher than in 2019, accounting for 37.1% to the total assets growth rate of PDBs and DFIs. This stands in contrast with an average growth rate of 19.6% among U.S. commercial banks in year 2020. Our data may help to lay the foundation for a rigorous analysis on the countercyclical role of PDBs and DFIs in times of Covid-19 in the near future.


Forthcoming Steps


Moving to the next stage, we will continue to update the list of PDBs and DFIs, as well as collect financial indicators of PDBs and DFIs for the fiscal year 2021, including total equity, total liabilities, net income, net interest revenue, and profit before tax.


To learn more, please visit our data visualization website (http://www.dfidatabase.pku.edu.cn/) and download the database for free. For using the information from the database, please cite: Xu, Jiajun, Régis Marodon, Xinshun Ru, Xiaomeng Ren, and Xinyue Wu. 2021. “What are Public Development Banks and Development Financing Institutions? ——Qualification Criteria, Stylized Facts and Development Trends.” China Economic Quarterly International, volume 1, issue 4: 271-294.


We welcome feedback from academia, policymakers, practitioners from PDBs and DFIs, and other stakeholders to provide constructive suggestions and fill gaps in the database. Please contact us at nsedfi@nsd.pku.edu.cn.




[1]. De Luna-Martinez, Jose; Vicente, Carlos Leonardo; Arshad, Ashraf Bin; Tatucu, Radu; Song, Jiyoung. (2018). 2017 Survey of National development banks (English). Washington, D.C.: World Bank Group.


[2]. Galindo, A. J., & Panizza, U. (2018). The cyclicality of international public sector borrowing in developing countries: Does the lender matter? World Development, 112, 119-135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.08.007


[3]. McDonald, David A.; Marois, Thomas; Barrowclough, Diana. (2021). Public banks and covid- 19: combatting the pandemic with public finance. UNCTAD.


[4]. OECD. COVID-19 and Global Capital Flow. (2020, July 3). Retrieved March 30, 2023, from https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/covid-19-and-global-capital-flows-2dc69002/