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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. Hutchison, Michael M & Noy, Ilan, 2005. "How Bad Are Twins? Output Costs of Currency and Banking Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(4), pages 725-52, August.
  2. 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 Center for International Economics, Working Paper Series qt1867f7ng, Center for International Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  3. Eswar Prasad & Shang-Jin Wei, 2007. "The Chinese Approach to Capital Inflows: Patterns and Possible Explanations," NBER Chapters, in: Capital Controls and Capital Flows in Emerging Economies: Policies, Practices and Consequences, pages 421-480 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Bryant, John, 1980. "A model of reserves, bank runs, and deposit insurance," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 335-344, December.
  6. Sebastian Edwards, 2005. "Capital Controls, Sudden Stops and Current Account Reversals," NBER Working Papers 11170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Carmen M. Reinhart & Graciela L. Kaminsky, 1999. "The Twin Crises: The Causes of Banking and Balance-of-Payments Problems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 473-500, June.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Jaewoo Lee, 2004. "Insurance Value of International Reserves; An Option Pricing Approach," IMF Working Papers 04/175, International Monetary Fund.
  12. 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.
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