The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The sizable hoarding of international reserves by several East Asian countries has been frequently attributed to a modern version of monetary mercantilism-hoarding international reserves in order to improve competitiveness. From a long-run perspective, manufacturing exporters in East Asia adopted financial mercantilism-subsidizing the cost of capital- during decades of high growth. They switched to hoarding large international reserves when growth faltered, making it harder to disentangle the monetary mercantilism from a precautionary response to the heritage of past financial mercantilism. Monetary mercantilism also lowers the cost of hoarding through its short-term boost to external competitiveness, but may be associated with negative externalities leading to competitive hoarding.