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The Optimal Level of Reserves for Low-Income Countries: Self-Insurance against External Shocks

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  • Regis Barnichon

Abstract

This paper develops an analytical framework that helps to quantify the optimal level of international reserves for a small open economy with limited access to foreign capital and subject to natural disasters or terms-of-trade shocks. International reserves allow the country to relieve balance of payments pressures caused by external shocks and to avoid large fluctuations in imports. The paper calibrates the model to two regions—the Caribbean and the Sahel region in sub-Saharan Africa—and assesses the sensitivity of the results. The conclusion is that popular rules of thumb, such as maintaining reserves equivalent to three months of imports, only give imprecise benchmarks.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Palgrave Macmillan in its journal IMF Staff Papers.

Volume (Year): 56 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 852-875

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Handle: RePEc:pal:imfstp:v:56:y:2009:i:4:p:852-875

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References

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  1. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. 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.
  3. Laura Alfaro & Fabio Kanczuk, 2007. "Optimal Reserve Management and Sovereign Debt," NBER Working Papers 13216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Francesco Caselli, 2007. "The Marginal Product of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 535-568, 05.
  5. Huggett, Mark & Ospina, Sandra, 2001. "Aggregate precautionary savings: when is the third derivative irrelevant?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 373-396, October.
  6. Ogaki, Masao & Zhang, Qiang, 2001. "Decreasing Relative Risk Aversion and Tests of Risk Sharing," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 515-26, March.
  7. Jonathan D. Ostry & Carmen M. Reinhart, 1992. "Private Saving and Terms of Trade Shocks: Evidence from Developing Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 39(3), pages 495-517, September.
  8. Agenor, Pierre-Richard & Bayraktar, Nihal & El Aynaoui, Karim, 2005. "Roads out of poverty? assessing the links between aid, public investment, growth, and poverty reduction," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3490, The World Bank.
  9. Stephen Zeldes, . "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 20-86, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  10. Caballero, Ricardo J., 1990. "Consumption puzzles and precautionary savings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 113-136, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Bacchetta, P. & Benhima, K. & Kalantzis, Y., 2012. "Capital Controls with International Reserve Accumulation: Can this Be Optimal?," Working papers 406, Banque de France.
  2. Era Dabla-Norris & Jun Il Kim & Kazuko Shirono, 2011. "Optimal Precautionary Reserves for Low-Income Countries," IMF Working Papers 11/249, International Monetary Fund.

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