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Financial Instability, Reserves, and Central Bank Swap Lines in the Panic of 2008

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  • Maurice Obstfeld
  • Jay C. Shambaugh
  • Alan M. Taylor

Abstract

In this paper we connect the events of the last twelve months, "The Panic of 2008" as it has been called, to the demand for international reserves. In previous work, we have shown that international reserve demand can be rationalized by a central bank's desire to backstop the broad money supply to avert the possibility of an internal/external double drain (a bank run combined with capital flight). Thus, simply looking at trade or short-term debt as motivations for reserve holdings is insufficient; one must also consider the size of the banking system (M2). Here, we show that a country's reserve holdings just before the current crisis, relative to their predicted holdings based on these financial motives, can significantly predict exchange rate movements of both emerging and advanced countries in 2008. Countries with large war chests did not depreciate -- and some appreciated. Meanwhile, those who held insufficient reserves based on our metric were likely to depreciate. Current account balances and short-term debt levels are not statistically significant predictors of depreciation once reserve levels are taken into account. Our model's typically high predicted reserve levels provide important context for the unprecedented U.S. dollar swap lines recently provided to many countries by the Federal Reserve.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.99.2.480
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/may09/20090018_app.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 480-86

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:2:p:480-86

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.2.480
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  1. Joshua Aizenman & Jaewoo Lee, 2005. "International Reserves: Precautionary versus Mercantilist Views, Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 11366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Obstfeld, Maurice & Shambaugh, Jay C & Taylor, Alan M, 2008. "Financial Stability, the Trilemma, and International Reserves," CEPR Discussion Papers 6693, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Olivier Jeanne, 2007. "International Reserves in Emerging Market Countries: Too Much of a Good Thing?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 1-80.
  4. Guillermo A. Calvo, 1996. "Capital flows and macroeconomic management: tequila lessons," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 96-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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