Visualized: The World’s Largest Sovereign Wealth Funds
Did you know that some of the world’s largest investment funds are owned by national governments?
Known as sovereign wealth funds (SWF), these vehicles are often established with seed money that is generated by government-owned industries. If managed responsibly and given a long enough timeframe, an SWF can accumulate an enormous amount of assets.
In this infographic, we’ve detailed the world’s 10 largest SWFs, along with the largest mutual fund and ETF for context.
The Big Picture
Data collected from SWFI in October 2021 ranks Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (also known as the Norwegian Oil Fund) as the world’s largest SWF.
The world’s 10 largest sovereign wealth funds (with fund size benchmarks) are listed below:
|Country||Fund Name||Fund Type||Assets Under Management (AUM)|
|🇳🇴 Norway||Government Pension Fund Global||SWF||$1.3 trillion|
|🇺🇸 U.S.||Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund||Mutual fund||$1.3 trillion|
|🇨🇳 China||China Investment Corporation||SWF||$1.2 trillion|
|🇰🇼 Kuwait||Kuwait Investment Authority||SWF||$693 billion|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||Abu Dhabi Investment Authority||SWF||$649 billion|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR||Hong Kong Monetary Authority Investment Portfolio||SWF||$581 billion|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||Government of Singapore Investment Corporation||SWF||$545 billion|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||Temasek||SWF||$484 billion|
|🇨🇳 China||National Council for Social Security Fund||SWF||$447 billion|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia||SWF||$430 billion|
|🇺🇸 U.S.||State Street SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust||ETF||$391 billion|
|🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||Investment Corporation of Dubai||SWF||$302 billion|
SWF AUM gathered on 10/08/2021. VTSAX and SPY AUM as of 09/30/2021.
So far, just two SWFs have surpassed the $1 trillion milestone. To put this in perspective, consider that the world’s largest mutual fund, the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX), is a similar size, investing in U.S. large-, mid-, and small-cap equities.
The Trillion Dollar Club
The world’s two largest sovereign wealth funds have a combined $2.5 trillion in assets. Here’s a closer look at their underlying portfolios.
1. Government Pension Fund Global – $1.3 Trillion (Norway)
Norway’s SWF was established after the country discovered oil in the North Sea. The fund invests the revenue coming from this sector to safeguard the future of the national economy. Here’s a breakdown of its investments.
|Asset Class||% of Total Assets||Country Diversification||Number of Securities|
|Public Equities||72.8%||69 countries||9,123 companies|
|Fixed income||24.7%||45 countries||1,245 bonds|
|Real estate||2.5%||14 countries||867 properties|
As of 12/31/2020
Real estate may be a small part of the portfolio, but it’s an important component for diversification (real estate is less correlated to the stock market) and generating income. Here are some U.S. office towers that the fund has an ownership stake in.
|601 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY||45.0%|
|475 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY||49.9%|
|33 Arch Street, Boston, MA||49.9%|
|100 First Street, San Francisco, CA||44.0%|
As of 12/31/2020
Overall, the fund has investments in 462 properties in the U.S. for a total value of $14.9 billion.
2. China Investment Corporation (CIC) – $1.2 Trillion (China)
The CIC is the largest of several Chinese SWFs, and was established to diversify the country’s foreign exchange holdings.
Compared to the Norwegian fund, the CIC invests in a greater variety of alternatives. This includes real estate, of course, but also private equity, private credit, and hedge funds.
|Asset Class||% of Total Assets|
As of 12/31/2020
A primary focus of the CIC has been to increase its exposure to American infrastructure and manufacturing. By the end of 2020, 57% of the fund was invested in the United States.
“According to our estimate, the United States needs at least $8 trillion in infrastructure investments. There’s not sufficient capital from the U.S. government or private sector. It has to rely on foreign investments.”
– Ding Xuedong, Chairman, China Investment Corporation
This has drawn suspicion from U.S. regulators given the geopolitical tensions between the two countries. For further reading on the topic, consider this 2017 paper by the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
Preparing for a Future Without Oil
Many of the countries associated with these SWFs are known for their robust fossil fuel industries. This includes Middle Eastern nations like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Oil has been an incredible source of wealth for these countries, but it’s unlikely to last forever. Some analysts believe that we could even see peak oil demand before 2030—though this doesn’t mean that oil will stop being an important resource.
Regardless, oil-producing countries are looking to hedge their reliance on fossil fuels. Their SWFs play an important role by taking oil revenue and investing it to generate returns and/or bolster other sectors of the economy.
An example of this is Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which supports the country’s Vision 2030 framework by investing in clean energy and other promising sectors.
Ranked: Top Countries for Foreign Direct Investment Flows
Take a look at changes in foreign direct investment flows over a decade, analyzing the top destinations and biggest investors.
One of the most significant phenomena in 21st-century globalization, driven by the ascent of multinational corporations and the removal of investing barriers, is the vast cross-border flow of foreign capital.
To analyze recent trends, Samidha Nayak utilized World Bank data spanning 2012–2022, charting the top 10 destinations for foreign direct investment (FDI) and the leading investing countries annually.
Countries With the Most FDI Inflows (2012–2022)
In 2012, the United States had the highest FDI inflow, attracting about $250 billion in investment from the rest of the world.
At second place, China’s FDI inflows stood about $9 billion lower at $241 billion.
The middle ranks have representatives from Europe (Netherlands, Cyprus), from Asia (Hong Kong) and from South America (Brazil).
Towards the bottom, three OECD countries—Germany, Ireland, and Australia—all attracted an average of $60 billion in foreign investment.
Unexpectedly, the British Virgin Islands came in 8th. Their lack of corporate tax makes it a popular place for companies to headquarter, in turn attracting FDI inflows.
|1||🇺🇸 U.S.||$250.35||1||🇺🇸 U.S.||$388.08|
|2||🇨🇳 China||$241.21||2||🇨🇳 China||$180.17|
|3||🇳🇱 Netherlands||$239.67||3||🇸🇬 Singapore||$140.84|
|4||🇧🇷 Brazil||$92.57||4||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||$120.95|
|5||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||$74.89||5||🇫🇷 France||$105.42|
|6||🇨🇾 Cyprus||$69.97||6||🇧🇷 Brazil||$91.50|
|7||🇩🇪 Germany||$65.44||7||🇦🇺 Australia||$67.12|
|8||🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands||$61.12||8||🇨🇦 Canada||$53.71|
|9||🇮🇪 Ireland||$58.09||9||🇸🇪 Sweden||$50.05|
|10||🇦🇺 Australia||$57.55||10||🇮🇳 India||$49.94|
Ten years later however, the top 10 saw a shuffle. The U.S. and China retained their top spots, but the difference grew much larger—with the U.S. attracting nearly 50% more foreign investment ($388 billion) than China ($180 billion).
Singapore, which first appeared in the rankings in 2014, took third place with $141 billion.
Meanwhile the bottom half changed almost entirely with France, Canada, Sweden, and India replacing Cyprus, Germany, the British Virgin Islands, and Ireland.
Countries With the Most FDI Outflows (2012–2022)
Unlike the ranks of net inflows, the top 10 countries with the highest FDI outflows have stayed essentially the same.
The U.S. topped the list in both ends of the decade, despite briefly falling out of the top 10 entirely in 2018. There were only three new entrants (France, Australia, and the UK) in 2022 compared to 10 years prior, with Cyprus, Switzerland, and the British Virgin Islands dropping out of top spots.
|1||🇺🇸 U.S.||$377.24||1||🇺🇸 U.S.||$426.25|
|2||🇳🇱 Netherlands||$237.94||2||🇩🇪 Germany||$178.87|
|3||🇯🇵 Japan||$117.63||3||🇯🇵 Japan||$175.40|
|4||🇩🇪 Germany||$99.08||4||🇬🇧 UK||$158.93|
|5||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||$88.12||5||🇨🇳 China||$149.69|
|6||🇨🇾 Cyprus||$75.25||6||🇳🇱 Netherlands||$125.89|
|7||🇨🇳 China||$64.96||7||🇦🇺 Australia||$123.36|
|8||🇨🇦 Canada||$62.25||8||🇫🇷 France||$118.76|
|9||🇨🇭Switzerland||$54.30||9||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||$106.86|
|10||🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands||$53.94||10||🇨🇦 Canada||$83.11|
Many of the countries who are in the top ranks for inflows (U.S., China, Canada, Australia) are also in the top ranks for outflows both in 2012 and 2022.
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