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Procyclicality in Central Bank Reserve Management; Evidence from the Crisis


  • Jukka Pihlman
  • Han van der Hoorn


A decade-long diversification of official reserves into riskier investments came to an abrupt end at the beginning of the global financial crisis, when many central bank reserve managers started to withdraw their deposits from the banking sector in an apparent flight to quality and safety. We estimate that reserve managers pulled around US$500 billion of deposits and other investments from the banking sector. Although clearly not the main cause, this procyclical investment behavior is likely to have contributed to the funding problems of the banking sector, which required offsetting measures by other central banks such as the Federal Reserve and Eurosystem central banks. The behavior highlights a potential conflict between the reserve management and financial stability mandates of central banks. This paper analyzes reserve managers’ actions during the crisis and draws some lessons for strategic asset allocation of reserves going forward.

Suggested Citation

  • Jukka Pihlman & Han van der Hoorn, 2010. "Procyclicality in Central Bank Reserve Management; Evidence from the Crisis," IMF Working Papers 10/150, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:10/150

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals and Misperceptions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 67-92, Fall.
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    5. Rochelle M. Edge & Ralf R. Meisenzahl, 2011. "The Unreliability of Credit-to-GDP Ratio Gaps in Real Time: Implications for Countercyclical Capital Buffers," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 7(4), pages 261-298, December.
    6. Silvia Merler & Jean Pisani-Ferry, 2012. "Sudden Stops in the Euro Area," Review of Economics and Institutions, Università di Perugia, vol. 3(3).
    7. Joon‐Ho Hahm & Hyun Song Shin & Kwanho Shin, 2013. "Noncore Bank Liabilities and Financial Vulnerability," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45, pages 3-36, August.
    8. Ivashina, Victoria & Scharfstein, David, 2010. "Bank lending during the financial crisis of 2008," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(3), pages 319-338, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Filardo, Andrew J. & Siklos, Pierre L., 2013. "Prolonged reserves accumulation, credit booms, asset prices and monetary policy in Asia," BOFIT Discussion Papers 5/2013, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    2. Allen, William A. & Moessner, Richhild, 2012. "The international propagation of the financial crisis of 2008 and a comparison with 1931," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(02), pages 123-147, August.
    3. Richhild Moessner & William A. Allen, 2011. "Las crisis bancarias y el sistema monetario internacional en la Gran Depresión y en la actualidad," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 13(25), pages 43-87, July-Dece.
    4. Stefano Ugolini, 2011. "Foreign exchange reserve management in the 19th century: The National Bank of Belgium in the 1850s," Working Paper 2011/07, Norges Bank.
    5. Ghosh, Amit, 2016. "What drives gold demand in central bank's foreign exchange reserve portfolio?," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(C), pages 146-150.
    6. repec:wsi:jicepx:v:04:y:2013:i:01:n:s1793993313500063 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Amit Ghosh, 2016. "Determinants of Gold Demand in Reserve Bank of India's foreign exchange reserve portfolio," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, issue 4, pages 1929-1937.


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