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Understanding the Recent Surge in the Accumulation of International Reserves


  • Petar Vujanovic



This paper looks at the empirical determinates of foreign currency reserve holdings across a panel of around 130 countries between 1980 and 2008. The paper builds on the existing literature by adopting a panel error-correction model specification and by extending the sample to include the recent period that saw a continuing acceleration in the accumulation of reserves in many countries. The results of the analysis suggest that the levels of trade and domestic financial depth are robust determinates of the level of reserves in the long run, particularly over the past decade and a half. The estimations also find that changes in GDP, the exchange rate regime, exchange rate volatility, and financial openness can all have permanent one-off effects on the level of reserves. Furthermore, country fixed effects are found to be significant, suggesting that time-invariant country specific factors are important in explaining the variance in reserve holdings across countries. Nevertheless, several countries stick out in terms of holding reserves well in excess of that implied by these empirical results, above all in recent years. Among these countries, China and Japan are particularly notable, especially when the deviation from average behaviour is expressed in dollar terms. Comprendre la récente accélération de l'accumulation de réserves internationales Ce document est consacré à l’étude des déterminants économétriques des réserves de change de 1980 à 2008 à partir d’un panel de quelque 130 pays. Il s’appuie sur les publications existantes en adoptant un modèle à correction d’erreurs sur données de panel et en élargissant l’échantillon de façon à couvrir la période récente qui a été marquée par une accélération continue de l’accumulation de réserves dans de nombreux pays. Les résultats de l’analyse tendent à montrer que le volume des échanges commerciaux et la profondeur du système financier national sont des déterminants robustes du volume des réserves sur le long terme, en particulier depuis une quinzaine d’années. Les estimations permettent aussi de constater que des changements en matière de PIB, de régime de change, d’instabilité des cours de change ou d’ouverture financière sont autant de facteurs ponctuels qui peuvent produire un effet permanent sur le volume des réserves. En outre, on observe des effets fixes significatifs spécifiques aux pays, ce qui suggère que des facteurs spécifiques à des pays et invariants dans le temps sont importants pour expliquer la variance des réserves de change entre différents pays. Néanmoins, plusieurs pays continuent à détenir des réserves très supérieures à ce qu’impliquent ces résultats économétriques, surtout ces dernières années. Parmi ces pays, on retiendra en particulier la Chine et le Japon, surtout lorsque l’on exprime en dollars l’écart que présentent ces pays avec le comportement moyen.

Suggested Citation

  • Petar Vujanovic, 2011. "Understanding the Recent Surge in the Accumulation of International Reserves," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 866, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:866-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 508-547, December.
    2. Maurice Obstfeld & Jay C. Shambaugh & Alan M. Taylor, 2005. "The Trilemma in History: Tradeoffs Among Exchange Rates, Monetary Policies, and Capital Mobility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 423-438, August.
    3. Aizenman, Joshua & Pasricha, Gurnain Kaur, 2010. "Selective swap arrangements and the global financial crisis: Analysis and interpretation," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 353-365, June.
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    5. Durdu, Ceyhun Bora & Mendoza, Enrique G. & Terrones, Marco E., 2009. "Precautionary demand for foreign assets in Sudden Stop economies: An assessment of the New Mercantilism," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 194-209, July.
    6. Maurice Obstfeld, 2009. "International Finance and Growth in Developing Countries: What Have We Learned?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 56(1), pages 63-111, April.
    7. Joshua Aizenman & Jaewoo Lee, 2007. "International Reserves: Precautionary Versus Mercantilist Views, Theory and Evidence," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 191-214, April.
    8. James Laurenceson & Kam Ki Tang, "undated". "Estimating China�s de-facto capital account convertibility," EAERG Discussion Paper Series 0205, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    9. Cavallo, Eduardo A. & Frankel, Jeffrey A., 2008. "Does openness to trade make countries more vulnerable to sudden stops, or less? Using gravity to establish causality," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 1430-1452, December.
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    11. Maurice Obstfeld & Jay C. Shambaugh & Alan M. Taylor, 2004. "Monetary Sovereignty, Exchange Rates, and Capital Controls: The Trilemma in the Interwar Period," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 51(s1), pages 75-108, June.
    12. Olivier Jeanne & Romain Rancière, 2011. "The Optimal Level of International Reserves For Emerging Market Countries: A New Formula and Some Applications," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(555), pages 905-930, September.
    13. Changkyu Choi & Seung-Gwan Baek, 2008. "Exchange-Rate Regimes and International Reserves," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 24, pages 105-129.
    14. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2006. "Monetary Policy Challenges in Emerging Markets: Sudden Stop, Liability Dollarization, and Lender of Last Resort," Research Department Publications 4504, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
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    Cited by:

    1. James P. Gander, 2013. "A Simple Dynamic-Control Macro Model to Examine the Behavior of International Reserves for Selected Economies," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2013_11, University of Utah, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    arrêt brutal; balance courante; banque centrale; central banks; changes; crise; crisis; current account; foreign currency; masse monétaire; money supply; reserves; réserves; sudden stop; trade; échanges commerciaux;

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy

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