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International Reserves: Precautionary vs. Mercantilist Views, Theory, and Evidence

  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Jaewoo Lee

This paper compares the importance of precautionary and mercantilist motives in the hoarding of international reserves by developing countries. Overall, empirical results support precautionary motives; in particular, a more liberal capital account regime increases international reserves. Theoretically, large precautionary demand for international reserves arises as a self-insurance to avoid costly liquidation of long-term projects when the economy is susceptible to sudden stops. The welfare gain from the optimal management of international reserves is of a first-order magnitude, reducing the welfare cost of liquidity shocks from a first-order to a second-order magnitude.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 05/198.

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Length: 30
Date of creation: 01 Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:05/198
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  1. Kravis, Irving B, 1984. "Comparative Studies of National Incomes and Prices," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 1-39, March.
  2. 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.
  3. Reinhart, Carmen & Kaminsky, Graciela, 1999. "The twin crises: The causes of banking and balance of payments problems," MPRA Paper 14081, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Aizenman, Joshua & Lee, Yeonho & Rhee, Yeongseop, 2004. "International reserves management and capital mobility in a volatile world: Policy considerations and a case study of Korea," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt1867f7ng, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  5. Aizenman, Joshua & Marion, Nancy, 2003. "The high demand for international reserves in the Far East: What is going on?," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 370-400, September.
  6. Michael Hutchison & Ilan Noy, 2002. "How bad are twins? output costs of currency and banking crises," Pacific Basin Working Paper Series 2002-02, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  7. Michael Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
  8. Bryant, John, 1980. "A model of reserves, bank runs, and deposit insurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-344, December.
  9. Prisman, Eliezer Z. & Slovin, Myron B. & Sushka, Marie E., 1986. "A general model of the banking firm under conditions of monopoly, uncertainty, and recourse," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 293-304, March.
  10. Shang-Jin Wei & Eswar Prasad, 2005. "The Chinese Approach to Capital Inflows; Patterns and Possible Explanations," IMF Working Papers 05/79, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Jaewoo Lee, 2004. "Insurance Value of International Reserves; An Option Pricing Approach," IMF Working Papers 04/175, International Monetary Fund.
  12. Sebastian Edwards, 2007. "Capital Controls, Sudden Stops, and Current Account Reversals," NBER Chapters, in: Capital Controls and Capital Flows in Emerging Economies: Policies, Practices and Consequences, pages 73-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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