IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Should larger reserve holdings be more diversified?

  • Beck, Roland
  • Weber, Sebastian

The notable increase in international reserve holdings over the past decade and their use during the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 has sparked renewed interest in the analysis of the optimal level of reserve holdings, in particular in countries which are subject to sudden stops. Less attention has been given to the optimal composition of reserves and even less to the joint determination of level and composition. In light of current developments, we show that despite the common belief that higher reserve levels should go along with higher diversification to minimize the opportunity costs from holding reserves, the opposite may even be true. It depends on the factors that stand behind the increase in reserves whether increased diversification is optimal or not. We estimate for a panel of 20 countries the determinants of the currency composition of reserves and show how it is affected by the different motives of reserve accumulation. In line with the recent literature on reserve levels we find that reserve accumulation is primarily driven by precautionary motives, which in turn underpins the allocation of reserves to safe assets. While we find primarily evidence of the allocation being a function of precautionary motives, we also find some weak evidence for reserve accumulation to lead to more diversified portfolios if reserve accumulation is driven by other factors than precautionary motives. JEL Classification: F31, F33, E42, G11

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1193.

in new window

Date of creation: May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20101193
Contact details of provider: Postal: 60640 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Phone: +49 69 1344 0
Fax: +49 69 1344 6000
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Papaioannou, Elias & Portes, Richard & Siourounis, Gregorios, 2006. "Optimal currency shares in international reserves: the impact of the euro and the prospects for the dollar," Working Paper Series 0694, European Central Bank.
  2. Linda S. Goldberg & Cedric Tille, 2005. "Vehicle Currency Use in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 11127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nienke Oomes & Christopher M. Meissner, 2008. "Why Do Countries Peg the Way They Peg? The Determinants of Anchor Currency Choice," IMF Working Papers 08/132, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Olivier Jeanne, 2001. "The International Lender of Last Resort: How Large is Large Enought?," IMF Working Papers 01/76, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Michael P. Dooley & J. Saul Lizondo & Donald J. Mathieson, 1989. "The Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 36(2), pages 385-434, June.
  6. Ricardo Caballero & Stavros Panageas, 2004. "Contingent reserves management: an applied framework," Working Papers 05-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  7. Rodrik, Dani, 2006. "The Social Cost of Foreign Exchange Reserves," CEPR Discussion Papers 5483, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Barry J. Eichengreen & Donald J. Mathieson, 2000. "The Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves: Retrospect and Prospect," IMF Working Papers 00/131, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Maurice Obstfeld & Jay C. Shambaugh & Alan M. Taylor, 2010. "Financial Stability, the Trilemma, and International Reserves," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 57-94, April.
  10. Menzie D. Chinn & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 2008. "The Euro May Over the Next 15 Years Surpass the Dollar as Leading International Currency," NBER Working Papers 13909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Levy Yeyati, Eduardo, 2008. "The cost of reserves," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 39-42, July.
  12. Carroll, Christopher D & Jeanne, Olivier, 2009. "A Tractable Model of Precautionary Reserves, Net Foreign Assets, or Sovereign Wealth Funds," CEPR Discussion Papers 7449, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Jeanne, Olivier & Rancière, Romain, 2008. "The Optimal Level of International Reserves For Emerging Market Countries: A New Formula and Some Applications," CEPR Discussion Papers 6723, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Maurice Obstfeld, 1995. "Models of Currency Crises with Self-Fulfilling Features," NBER Working Papers 5285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Hamada, Koichi & Ueda, Kazuo, 1977. "Random Walks and the Theory of the Optimal International Reserves," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(348), pages 722-42, December.
  17. Robert P. Flood & Nancy P. Marion, 2002. "Holding International Reserves in an Era of High Capital Mobility," IMF Working Papers 02/62, International Monetary Fund.
  18. Beck, Roland & Rahbari, Ebrahim, 2008. "Optimal reserve composition in the presence of sudden stops: the euro and the dollar as safe haven currencies," Working Paper Series 0916, European Central Bank.
  19. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1991. "Toward a Theory of International Currency," Discussion Papers 931, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  20. Clark, Peter B, 1970. "Optimum International Reserves and the Speed of Adjustment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 356-76, March-Apr.
  21. Ben-Bassat, Avraham, 1980. "The optimal composition of foreign exchange reserves," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 285-295, May.
  22. Dellas, Harris & Bang Yoo, Chin, 1991. "Reserve currency preferences of central banks: the case of Korea," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 406-419, September.
  23. Christian B. Mulder & Matthieu Bussière, 1999. "External Vulnerability in Emerging Market Economies: How High Liquidity Can Offset Weak Fundamentals and the Effects of Contagion," IMF Working Papers 99/88, International Monetary Fund.
  24. Eichengreen, Barry, 1998. "The Euro as a Reserve Currency," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 483-506, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20101193. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Official Publications)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.