A distinguishing feature of emerging market crises in the 1990s and early 2000s was the sudden disruption in the capital accounts of key sectors of the economy. Capital account crises typically occur as creditors quickly lose confidence, prompting sudden and large-scale portfolio adjustments such as massive withdrawals of bank deposits, panic sales of securities, or abrupt halts of debt rollovers. As the exchange rate, interest rates, and other asset prices adjust, the balance sheet of an entire economy can sharply deteriorate.
1. International financial crises in the late 1990s underscored the importance of disseminating comprehensive information on countries’ international reserves and foreign currency liquidity1 on a timely basis. Deficiencies in such information have made it difficult to anticipate and respond to crises by obscuring financial weaknesses and imbalances. (See Box 1.1) Moreover, both the complexity and the importance of such information have increased as a result of the ongoing globalization of financial markets and financial innovations. The international financial activities2 that countries’ central banks and government entities undertake now occur in myriad forms, involve multiple domestic and foreign entities, and span locations around the globe. To assess countries’ foreign currency liquidity requires supplementing traditional data on international reserves that cover largely cross-border and balance-sheet activities with those on foreign currency positions and off-balance-sheet activities.
58. This chapter provides guidelines to assist countries in reporting data on the authorities’ foreign currency resources (comprising reserve assets and other foreign currency assets) in Section I of the template. Items I.A.(1) through I.A.(5) are used to report information on reserve assets and item I.B., on other foreign currency assets. All items in Section I refer to outstanding assets (stock) on the reference date. As noted in para. 42, to facilitate liquidity analysis, it is recommended that information on special features of the reporting country’s reserves management policy and major sources of funds for reserve assets and other foreign currency assets be described in country notes accompanying the template data. To enhance data transparency, it is also important to indicate in country notes specific changes in the reporting country’s exchange rate arrangements (for example, the implementation of dollarization) and their impact on the level of the country’s reserve assets.
The particular framework of a BSA application—a matrix of intersectoral balance sheets in terms of sectors of the economy and components of the balance sheet (Table 1)—depends on the focus of analysis and, as a practical matter, the availability of data. Allen and others (2002) provide a generic matrix encompassing four sectors (government, financial, nonfinancial, nonresident) with assets and liabilities broken down by (short- and long-term) maturity and currency (domestic, foreign). The framework presented in this paper uses the same breakdown of assets and liabilities but expands it to seven sectors.6
138. Section II of the template is used to report the authorities’ predetermined short-term net drains on foreign currency assets. “Predetermined” drains are the known or scheduled contractual obligations in foreign currencies. Contractual obligations of the authorities can arise from on-balance-sheet and off-balance-sheet activities. On-balance-sheet obligations include predetermined payments of principal and interest associated with loans and securities. (See also footnote 6 of the data template.) Off-balance-sheet activities that give rise to predetermined flows of foreign currency include commitments in forwards, swaps, and futures contracts.
180. Section III of the template covers contingent short-term net drains on foreign currency resources. As discussed in Chapter 3, net drains refer to outflows net of inflows. Contingent inflows and outflows simply refer to contractual obligations that give rise to potential or possible future additions or depletions of foreign currency assets. Contingent drains are by definition off-balance-sheet activities, since only actual assets and liabilities are to be reflected on balance sheets. Section III of the template differs from Section II because foreign currency flows to be reported in Section III are contingent upon exogenous events. As with predetermined foreign currency flows covered in Section II of the template, contingent flows can arise from positions with residents and nonresidents.
Recent improvements in statistical methodologies and data availability are enhancing the potential for detecting and monitoring macroeconomic balance sheet vulnerabilities. In particular, some of the datasets introduced in recent years permit a much more frequent, detailed, and up-to-date analysis.
236. Section IV of the template provides supplementary information covering (1) positions and flows not disclosed in Sections I—III but deemed relevant for assessing the authorities’ reserves and foreign currency liquidity positions and risk exposure in foreign exchange; (2) additional details on positions and flows disclosed in Sections I—III; and (3) positions and flows according to a breakdown or valuation criteria different from those found in Sections I—III.
The most important aspect of the new datasets is that they permit tracking the evolution of balance sheet vulnerabilities—the potential for liquidity or solvency problems—on a regular and timely basis for surveillance purposes. As the example of South Africa illustrated, the new datasets—particularly the SRF, JEDH, QEDS, and CPIS—provide financial data with greater periodicity, detail, and timeliness, enabling better tracking of current vulnerabilities using the BSA. These data can be mapped into the 7 x 7 BSA framework for a monthly analysis of sectoral vulnerabilities. If needed, the framework also allows for a detailed breakdown by assets and liabilities by currency, which can be very useful when analyzing particular vulnerabilities. Recent applications of the BSA using these new databases illustrate some of the advantages for IMF surveillance. However, the full potential for detailed examination of a country’s vulnerabilities and cross-country analysis based on comparable data will be realized in future applications of the BSA using these databases.