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.
This paper examines the determinants of the currency composition of international reserves. Our single most important finding is the striking stability over time of the relationship between the demand for reserves denominated in different currencies and its principal determinants: trade flows, financial flows and currency pegs. This result contrasts sharply with recent predictions of sharp shifts in the currency composition of central banks’ holdings of foreign exchange. The message would seem to be that in this, as in other respects, the international monetary system is in a mode of gradual, continuous evolution, not of rapid, discontinuous change.