In this post I will show how the main Central Bank balance sheets have grown in the last few years.
First a graph with the assets as a percentage of GDP for the Federal Reserve (U.S.), The European Central Bank, The Bank of England and the Bank of Japan. You can see that especially the assets of the UK and the US central banks have exploded during the financial crisis in the second half of 2008. The balance sheet of the ECB didn't grow as fast but is growing fast at the moment.
The increase in the balance sheets reflect more flexible lending standards by the central banks to the public banks. With the credit markets drying up at the moment (as in 2008) banks more and more stop lending to and from each other and start storing its excess money at the central bank as well as lending from it.
The extra loans given out by the central banks show up as an increase in the central banks balance sheets.
This chart shows the balance sheet of the European Central Bank in trillion euro's. Ofcourse the above picture gives a better comparison as the balance sheets are expressed as percentages of the countries GDP.