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 views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate. This paper develops an analytical framework that helps to quantify the optimal level of international reserves for a small open economy with limited access to foreign capital and subject to natural disasters or terms of trade shocks. International reserves allow the country to relieve balance of payments pressures caused by external shocks and to avoid large fluctuations in imports. I calibrate the model to two regions, the Caribbean and the Sahel, and assess the sensitivity of the results.