Are central banks printing vast quantities of money? This column explains how money-multiplier economics (central banks create reserves that allow commercial banks to create money) no longer holds. Today, non-bank financial institutions play a pivotal role in money/liquidity creation, but hold no reserves. Their lending depends on “private reserves”, mainly highly liquid government securities. Creating more ‘public’ reserves by buying such ‘private’ reserves doesn’t trigger money creation – it just substitutes among reserve types. Open-market purchases only create money if they swap a monetary base for assets that are no longer accepted at full value as collateral in the market.
Manmohan Singh, Peter Stella, 07 May 2012
Joshua Aizenman, Kenta Inoue, 19 March 2012
The patterns of gold holding remain a debatable topic at times when the relative price of gold has appreciated while the global economy has experienced recessionary effects. This column studies the curious patterns of gold holding and trading by central banks from 1979 to 2010. It suggests that a central bank’s gold position signals economic might, and gold retains the stature of a ‘safe haven’ asset at times of global turbulence.
Kati Suominen, 09 July 2010
The global crisis has led some to question the dollar’s place as the dominant currency. This column discusses three camps in the literature: those advocating a new synthetic global currency, those arguing that a new reserve currency will emerge, and those suggesting a return to sharing the role. It concludes that talk of the dollar’s death – or even its decline – are exaggerated.
Jeffrey Frankel, George Saravelos, 01 July 2010
Can “early warning indicators” predict which countries are most vulnerable to a crisis? This column argues that, contrary to findings released last year, early warning indicators were useful in identifying which nations were hit hardest by the Global Crisis from 2008 to 2009. The authors argue that the level of central bank reserves was particularly useful. Other useful early warning indicators include real effective exchange rate overvaluation, current accounts, and national savings.
Eduardo Borensztein, Olivier Jeanne, Damiano Sandri, 15 December 2009
Accumulating large foreign exchange reserves is a costly insurance strategy for developing countries. This column says that commodity-exporting countries might do better by hedging their risk with financial instruments, thereby reducing the need to hold precautionary reserves. Yet few do so.
Joshua Aizenman, 30 November 2009
The spectacular increase in hoarding of international reserves by emerging markets since the East Asian crisis has been one of the defining features of global imbalances. This column explores lessons from the crisis regarding alternatives to massive hoarding. It says that the crisis validates the need for external debt management policy and that the presence of fire-sale externalities associated with deleveraging, optimal external borrowing-tax cum international reserves hoarding-subsidy reduces the cost and the scale of hoarding international reserves.
Joshua Aizenman, Yi Sun, 15 October 2009
Emerging markets accumulated massive international reserves over the last decade. This column explores how they used them to respond to the crisis. Economies that accumulated reserves for trade concerns drew them down in response to the shock, while economies driven by financial factors showed a “fear of depleting”.
Guillermo Calvo, Rudy Loo-Kung, 10 December 2008
Emerging markets are weaker than the G7, and if they undertake expansionary monetary and fiscal policies like the G7, inflation and capital flight are likely surge. This column argues international financial institutions must take an unprecedented role in bailing out emerging markets as there is the serious risk that they resort to protectionism and nationalisation.
Victor Pontines, Ramkishen S. Rajan, 19 November 2008
Why are emerging Asian economies accumulating massive foreign exchange reserve stocks? Much research has focused on precautionary or export-promoting motives. This column argues that emerging economies are pursuing exchange rate management with a strong bias towards preventing appreciation.
Michael Bordo, Harold James, 18 June 2008
The IMF needs a new job. This column makes the case for the bold proposal that the IMF should manage a significant part of the new surplus countries’ sovereign wealth funds.