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International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.


This paper presents the Supplement on international reserves, the sixth in the series of supplements to International Financial Statistics (IFS) that comprises textual material commencing with an historical perspective of international reserves. This is followed by a discussion on the methodology covering the concepts underlying the reserves data in IFS: the data collection and presentation procedures; the related data in the money and banking, and balance-of-payments sections in IFS; and a summary of the national concepts of reserves. Statistics on international reserves are important indicators of the external economic performance of countries. A country's holdings of international reserves represent its ability to meet balance of payments needs through official financial settlements. The establishment of the IMF led to the creation of a reserve asset in the form of a gold tranche position reflecting a member's subscription to the IMF in gold. To the extent that the IMF made use of a member's currency in drawings of other countries, a creation of new reserves was involved.

John Alves

THE USEFULNESS OF AN AGREED STANDARD presentation for balance of payments statistics has been recognized since data were first organized into systematic accounts that provided the possibility of international comparisons. In the earliest presentations the form depended almost entirely on what scanty materials were available as a measure of a country’s international transactions; different systems were elaborated in individual countries on the foundation of what was at first possible. Unifying tendencies were first brought to bear by the League of Nations Secretariat, and the International Monetary Fund has inherited this segment of its international responsibilities. The League’s standard schedule for balance of payments reporting gained general acceptance and was a precursor of the Fund’s Balance of Payments Manual in its successive editions, prescribing a set form in which figures should be compiled. The results have been published by both the League and the Fund in yearbooks designed to make the statistics available in the standardized form.