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International Reserve Holdings with Sovereign Risk and Costly Tax Collection


  • Aizenman, Joshua
  • Marion, Nancy P.


We derive a precautionary demand for international reserves in the presence of sovereign risk and show that political-economy considerations modify the optimal level of reserve holdings. A greater chance of opportunistic behavior by future policy makers and political corruption reduce the demand for international reserves and increase external borrowing. We provide evidence to support these findings. Consequently, the debt-to-reserves ratio may be less useful as a vulnerability indicator. A version of the Lucas Critique suggests that if a high debt-to-reserves ratio is a symptom of opportunistic behavior, a policy recommendation to increase international reserve holdings may be welfare-reducing.

Suggested Citation

  • Aizenman, Joshua & Marion, Nancy P., 2003. "International Reserve Holdings with Sovereign Risk and Costly Tax Collection," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt9s7978n1, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt9s7978n1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Elbadawi, Ibrahim A, 1990. "The Sudan Demand for International Reserve: A Case of a Labour-Exporting Country," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(225), pages 73-89, February.
    2. Hipple, F Steb, 1979. "A Note on the Measurement of the Holding Cost of International Reserves," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(4), pages 612-614, November.
    3. Alberto Alesina & Guido Tabellini, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Fiscal Deficits and Government Debt," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 403-414.
    4. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "On the Determination of the Public Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 940-971, October.
    5. Vito Tanzi & Hamid R Davoodi, 1997. "Corruption, Public Investment, and Growth," IMF Working Papers 97/139, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Lizondo, JoseSaul & Mathieson, Donald J., 1987. "The stability of the demand for international reserves," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 251-282, September.
    7. Ben-Bassat, Avraham & Gottlieb, Daniel, 1992. "Optimal international reserves and sovereign risk," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3-4), pages 345-362, November.
    8. Frenkel, Jacob A & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1981. "Optimal International Reserves: A Stochastic Framework," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(362), pages 507-514, June.
    9. Detragiache, Enrica, 1996. "Fiscal Adjustment and Official Reserves in Sovereign Debt Negotiations," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(249), pages 81-95, February.
    10. Cukierman, Alex & Edwards, Sebastian & Tabellini, Guido, 1992. "Seigniorage and Political Instability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 537-555, June.
    11. Van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1990. "Cash/debt buy-backs and the insurance value of reserves," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 123-131, August.
    12. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1980. "LDC participation in international financial markets : Debt and reserves," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 3-21, February.
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    More about this item


    intertemporal consumption and distortion smoothing; political instability; corruption;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements


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