IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why SDRs Could Rival the Dollar


  • John Williamson

    () (Peterson Institute for International Economics)


The special drawing rights (SDRs)--the International Monetary Fund's unit of account--could emerge as a rival to the US dollar as an international reserve currency. Williamson questions the assertion of Cato Institute's Swaminathan Aiyar that the SDR is not a currency and can never be one and the relevance of the fact that the IMF has no GDP and no taxing capacity and so lacks the fundamental requirements for creating a currency. It is true that only central banks accept SDRs in settlement of debts. But to the extent that they are so accepted, Williamson argues, they are money and could play a far more central role in the international monetary system than they have so far. Large SDR allocations could be a mechanism to ensure consistency in balance of payments objectives sought by countries around the world, one that ensures a much fairer distribution of gains from seigniorage--profit that accrues to whoever issues money. In the case of the SDRs, the IMF would be the issuer, and the seigniorage gains would be distributed in proportion to IMF quotas, which determine the proportion of allocations. For most countries, there is a clear advantage in boosting the role of the SDR and achieving a portion of the seigniorage gains. The interests of major reserve-currency countries, like the United States and potentially China, in displacing the dollar's reserve role can be disputed, but these countries too would benefit from an enhanced role of the SDR, depending on the evaluation of advantages and disadvantages.

Suggested Citation

  • John Williamson, 2009. "Why SDRs Could Rival the Dollar," Policy Briefs PB09-20, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:iie:pbrief:pb09-20

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Vivekanand Jayakumar & Barbara Weiss, 2011. "Global reserve currency system: Why will the dollar standard give way to a tripolar currency order?," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer;Higher Education Press, vol. 6(1), pages 92-130, March.
    2. Michel LELART, 2009. "Les droits de tirage spéciaux (DTS) ressuscités par le G20 !," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 1096, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    3. Yasir Khan & Attiya Yasmin Javid, 2015. "The Impact of Formal and Informal Institutions on Economic Performance: A Cross-Country Analysis," PIDE-Working Papers 2015:130, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    4. Pedro Bação & António Portugal Durate & Mariana Simões, 2013. "The International Monetary System in Flux: Overview and Prospects," GEMF Working Papers 2013-07, GEMF, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iie:pbrief:pb09-20. 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: (Peterson Institute webmaster). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.