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Ranking, risk-taking and effort: an analysis of the ECB's foreign reserves management


  • Antonio Scalia

    () (Bank of Italy)

  • Benjamin Sahel

    () (European Central Bank)


The investment of the ECB reserves in US dollars and yen involves an annual performance assessment of portfolio managers, located in the Eurosystem�s national central banks. Employing new data on individual portfolios during 2002-2009, we study this peculiar tournament and show the existence of risk-shifting behaviour by reserve managers related to their year-to-date ranking: interim losers increase relative risk in the second half of the year, in the same way as mutual fund managers. In the dollar case the adjustment to ranking is reduced or offset if reserve managers have achieved a positive interim performance against the benchmark. Yen reserve managers that rank low show a tendency to increase effort, as proxied by portfolio turnover. Those who ranked low in the previous year tend to reduce risk significantly. Since reserve managers should have a comparative advantage over the benchmark within a monthly horizon, possible enhancements to the design of the tournament might involve an increased reward for effort and performance by means of a convex scoring system linked to monthly, rather than annual, performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Scalia & Benjamin Sahel, 2012. "Ranking, risk-taking and effort: an analysis of the ECB's foreign reserves management," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 840, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_840_12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jennifer Lynch Koski & Jeffrey Pontiff, 1999. "How Are Derivatives Used? Evidence from the Mutual Fund Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 791-816, April.
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    5. Florian Ederer, 2010. "Feedback and Motivation in Dynamic Tournaments," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 733-769, September.
    6. Goriaev, Alexei & Nijman, Theo E. & Werker, Bas J. M., 2005. "Yet another look at mutual fund tournaments," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 127-137, January.
    7. Suleyman Basak & Anna Pavlova & Alexander Shapiro, 2007. "Optimal Asset Allocation and Risk Shifting in Money Management," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(5), pages 1583-1621, 2007 21.
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    10. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-1324, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Potente & Antonio Scalia, 2016. "Market timing and performance attribution in the ECB reserve management framework," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1062, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

    More about this item


    foreign exchange reserves; tournament; incentives; effort; portfolio management;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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