Chapter

APPENDIX I International Reserves

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
September 2001
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Total international reserves, including gold, increased by 11 percent during 2000 and stood at SDR 1.7 trillion at the end of the year (Table I.1). Total nongold reserves grew by 12 percent, the result of a 14 percent rise in foreign exchange reserves (the largest component of official reserve holdings), to SDR 1.5 trillion, and a 10 percent tall in IMF-related assets, to SDR 66 billion. The market value of gold held by monetary authorities declined by 2 percent, to SDR 200 billion at the end of 2000.1

Table I.1Official Holdings of Reserve Assets1(In billions of SDRs)
199519961997199819992000Mar.

2001
All countries
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF36.738.047.160.654.847.447.3
SDRs19.818.520.520.418.518.518.7
Subtotal, IMF-related assets56.456.567.681.073.265.966.0
Foreign exchange932.01085.71193.71162.81295.21471.81519.3
Total reserves excluding gold988.41142.21261.21243.81368.41537.71585.3
Gold2
Quantity (millions of troy ounces)907.1904.9887.1966.5964.7950.8946.3
Value at London market price236.0232.4190.8197.6204.0200.3193.4
Total reserves including gold1224.41374.61452.01441.31572.41737.91778.7
Industrial countries
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF31.632.641.353.946.839.738.9
SDRs15.014.515.515.814.714.415.0
Subtotal, IMF-related assets46.647.156.869.861.554.153.9
Foreign exchange441.1501.7520.9475.8524.8595.4598.8
Total reserves excluding gold487.7548.8577.7545.6586.3649.5652.7
Gold2
Quantity (millions of troy ounces)755.0748.2732.5808.7810.4796.5792.6
Value at London market price196.4192.1157.5165.3171.4167.8162.0
Total reserves including gold684.1740.9735.2710.9757.7817.3814.7
Developing countries
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF5.05.45.76.78.07.78.4
SDRs4.84.05.04.53.74.13.7
Subtotal, IMF-related assets9.89.410.811.211.711.812.1
Foreign exchange490.9584.1672.8687.0770.4876.4920.5
Total reserves excluding gold500.7593.4683.6698.2782.1888.1932.6
Gold2
Quantity (millions of troy ounces)152.1156.7154.6157.9154.2154.2153.7
Value at London market price39.640.233.332.332.632.531.4
Total reserves including gold540.3633.7716.8730.5814.7920.6964.0
Net debtor developing countries
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF3.53.94.25.05.65.45.8
SDRs3.82.93.93.33.13.33.0
Subtotal, IMF-related assets7.36.98.18.48.78.78.8
Foreign exchange367.9448.3534.8546.5608.1690.4735.1
Total reserves excluding gold375.2455.1542.8554.8616.8699.1743.8
Gold2
Quantity (millions of troy ounces)125.0129.4127.9131.0128.1128.1127.6
Value at London market price32.533.227.526.827.127.026.1
Total reserves including gold407.7488.4570.3581.6643.9726.1769.9
Net debtor developing countries without debt-servicing problems
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF3.13.53.84.64.84.65.0
SDRs2.81.83.02.62.42.12.1
Subtotal, IMF-related assets5.95.36.87.27.26.77.1
Foreign exchange273.0327.3400.5425.5485.9557.9598.0
Total reserves excluding gold278.8332.5407.2432.6493.1564.5605.1
Gold2
Quantity (millions of troy ounces)76.680.382.785.983.883.583.5
Value at London market price19.920.617.817.617.717.617.1
Total reserves including gold298.8353.1425.0450.2510.8582.1622.1
Note: Components may not sum to totals because or rounding.Source: IMF, International Financial Statistics.

End of year figures for all years except 2001. “IMF-related assets” comprise reserve positions in the IMF and SDR holdings of all IMF members. The entries under “Foreign exchange” and “Gold” comprise official holdings of those IMF members for which data arc available and certain other countries or areas.

One troy ounce equals 31.103 grams. The market price is the afternoon price fixed in London on the last business day of each period.

Note: Components may not sum to totals because or rounding.Source: IMF, International Financial Statistics.

End of year figures for all years except 2001. “IMF-related assets” comprise reserve positions in the IMF and SDR holdings of all IMF members. The entries under “Foreign exchange” and “Gold” comprise official holdings of those IMF members for which data arc available and certain other countries or areas.

One troy ounce equals 31.103 grams. The market price is the afternoon price fixed in London on the last business day of each period.

Foreign Exchange Reserves

Ninety-six percent of nongold assets consisted of foreign exchange reserves at the end of 2000. Industrial countries increased their foreign exchange reserve holdings by 13 percent, to SDR 595 billion. The foreign exchange reserves of developing countries rose by 14 percent during 2000, to SDR 876 billion. Developing countries have steadily increased their share of foreign exchange holdings; at the end of 2000, their share represented 60 percent of total foreign exchange reserves.

Oil-exporting developing countries, which hold about 10 percent of all developing countries’ foreign exchange reserves, increased their foreign exchange reserves by 22 percent in 2000. Foreign exchange reserves of net debtor and net creditor developing country groups rose by 14 percent and 15 percent, to SDR 690 billion and SDR 186 billion, respectively, at the end of 2000. Foreign exchange reserves of net debtors without debt-servicing problems increased by 15 percent, to SDR 558 billion, while those of countries with debt-servicing problems increased by 8 percent, to SDR 133 billion.

Holdings of IMF-Related Assets

During 2000, total holdings of IMF-related assets (that is, reserve positions in the IMF and SDRs) fell by 10 percent, following a comparable decline in the previous year. Industrial countries hold a majority of IMF-related assets: 82 percent at the end of 2000. The fall in IMF-related assets was attributable to a 14 percent decline in members’ reserve positions in the IMF—which consist of members’ reserve tranche and creditor positions—to SDR 47 billion. SDR holdings of IMF members remained virtually unchanged from end-1999, at SDR 19 billion.

Gold Reserves

The market value of gold reserves declined by 2 percent during 2000, to SDR 200 billion. This primarily reflects a decrease in the physical stock of gold, as the SDR price of gold fell only slightly. The share of gold in officially held reserves declined gradually to 12 percent at the end of 2000 from about 50 percent at the end of 1980. Most of the gold reserves (84 percent) are held by industrial countries: gold constituted 21 percent of these countries’ total reserves at the end of 2000.

Developments During First Quarter of 2001

During the first quarter of 2001, total reserve assets rose by SDR 41 billion. An increase of SDR 48 billion in foreign exchange reserves was partially offset by a decline of SDR 7 billion in the market value of gold reserves, mainly because of a decline in the SDR price of gold since the end of 2000. IMF-related assets remained practically unchanged during the first quarter of 2001.

Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves

The currency composition of foreign exchange reserves changed gradually over the past decade, with holdings of U.S. dollars, the dominant international reserve currency, rising to 68 percent of foreign exchange reserves at the end of 2000 from 51 percent nine years earlier (Table I.2). The euro, which replaced 11 European currencies and the European currency unit (ecu) on January 1, 1999, was the second most important reserve currency, accounting for 13 percent of total foreign exchange reserves. The share of the euro remained nearly unchanged from the end of 1999. Since, at the introduction of the euro, the Eurosystem’s reserves previously denominated in euro legacy currencies2 became domestic assets of the euro area, the share of the euro in 1999–2000 is not directly comparable with the previous years’ combined share of the four euro legacy currencies identified in Table I.2: deutsche mark, French franc. Netherlands guilder, and private ecu. However, after adjusting the data to take into account only holdings of these currencies outside the euro area, their combined share in 1998 was virtually identical to the share of the euro in 1999.

Table I.2Share of National Currencies in Total Identified Official Holdings of Foreign Exchange, End of Year1(In percent)
1991199219931994199519961997199819992000
All countries
U.S. dollar51.355.356.756.657.060.362.465.968.468.2
Japanese yen8.57.67.77.96.86.05.25.45.55.3
Pound sterling3.33.13.03.33.23.43.73.94.03.9
Swiss franc1.21.01.10.90.80.80.70.70.70.7
Euro12.52212.722
Deutsche mark15.413.313.714.213.713.112.912.2
French franc3.02.72.32.42.31.91.41.4
Netherlands guilder1.10.70.70.50.40.30.40.4
ECUs310.29.78.27.76.85.95.00.8
Unspecified currencies46.26.66.66.58.98.38.49.38.99.2
Industrial countries
U.S. dollar43.648.850.250.851.856.157.966.773.573.3
Japanese yen9.77.67.88.26.65.65.86.66.56.5
Pound sterling1.82.42.22.32.12.01.92.22.32.0
Swiss franc0.80.40.30.20.10.10.10.20.10.2
Euro10.7210.22
Deutsche mark18.315.116.416.316.415.615.913.4
French franc3.12.92.62.42.31.70.91.3
Netherlands guilder1.10.40.40.30.20.20.20.2
ECUs316.616.715.214.613.412.010.91.9
Unspecified currencies44.95.74.85.07.06.76.47.46.97.6
Developing countries
U.S. dollar63.364.464.363.062.464.466.265.364.664.3
Japanese yen6.77.77.57.67.06.54.74.54.74.4
Pound sterling5.54.14.04.44.44.85.15.25.35.2
Swiss franc1.81.92.01.71.51.41.11.11.11.1
Euro13.914.6
Deutsche mark10.810.810.511.911.010.610.311.3
French franc2.72.32.02.42.32.01.81.5
Netherlands guilder1.01.01.00.80.60.50.60.5
ECUs3
Unspecified currencies58.27.78.78.110.99.810.110.710.410.4
Note: Components may not sum to totals because of rounding.

Only IMF member countries that report their official holdings of foreign exchange are included in this table.

Not comparable with the combined share of euro legacy currencies in previous years because it excludes the euros received by euro area members when their previous holdings of other euro area members’ legacy currencies were converted into euros on January 1, 1999.

In the calculation of currency shares, the ecu is treated as a separate currency. Ecu reserves held by the monetary authorities existed in the form of claims on both the private sector and European Monetary Institute (EMI), which issued official ecus to European Union central banks through revolving swaps against the contribution of 20 percent of their gross gold holdings and U.S. dollar reserves. On December 31, 1998, the official ecus were unwound into gold and U.S. dollars; hence, the share of ecus at the end of 1998 was sharply lower than a year earlier. The remaining ecu holdings reported for 1998 consisted of ecus issued by the private sector, usually in the form of ecu deposits and bonds. On January 1, 1999, these holdings were automatically converted into euros.

The residual is equal to the difference between total foreign exchange reserves of IMF member countries and the sum of the reserves held in the currencies listed in the table.

The calculations here rely to a greater extent on IMF staff estimates than do those provided for the group of industrial countries.

Note: Components may not sum to totals because of rounding.

Only IMF member countries that report their official holdings of foreign exchange are included in this table.

Not comparable with the combined share of euro legacy currencies in previous years because it excludes the euros received by euro area members when their previous holdings of other euro area members’ legacy currencies were converted into euros on January 1, 1999.

In the calculation of currency shares, the ecu is treated as a separate currency. Ecu reserves held by the monetary authorities existed in the form of claims on both the private sector and European Monetary Institute (EMI), which issued official ecus to European Union central banks through revolving swaps against the contribution of 20 percent of their gross gold holdings and U.S. dollar reserves. On December 31, 1998, the official ecus were unwound into gold and U.S. dollars; hence, the share of ecus at the end of 1998 was sharply lower than a year earlier. The remaining ecu holdings reported for 1998 consisted of ecus issued by the private sector, usually in the form of ecu deposits and bonds. On January 1, 1999, these holdings were automatically converted into euros.

The residual is equal to the difference between total foreign exchange reserves of IMF member countries and the sum of the reserves held in the currencies listed in the table.

The calculations here rely to a greater extent on IMF staff estimates than do those provided for the group of industrial countries.

The share of the Japanese yen in total foreign exchange reserves declined steadily from 9 percent at end-1991 to 5 percent at the end of 1997, and has since stayed at about that level. Throughout the past decade, the share of pound sterling has remained at between 3 and 4 percent and that of the Swiss franc at approximately 1 percent. The share of unspecified currencies, which include currencies not identified in Table I.2 as well as foreign exchange reserves for which no information on currency composition is available, stood at 9 percent at the end of 2000.

For industrial countries, the share of the U.S. dollar increased throughout the 1990s to peak at 74 percent in 1999; at the end of 2000 its share was 73 percent. The share of the euro in those countries’ foreign exchange reserves declined by half a percentage point, to 10 percent, while the shares of Japanese yen, pound sterling, and Swiss franc were unchanged from the previous year’s levels. The share of unspecified currencies increased by one percentage point, to 8 percent in 2000.

The share of the U.S. dollar in developing countries’ foreign exchange reserves was 64 percent in 2000, a level that has remained relatively constant over the last decade. Since 1999, the share of the euro increased by about 1 percentage point, to 15 percent. The shares of the Japanese yen, pound sterling, and the Swiss franc remained close to their previous years’ levels at 4 percent, 5 percent, and 1 percent, respectively. Unspecified currencies accounted for 10 percent of developing countries’ foreign exchange reserves in 2000.

Changes in the SDR value of foreign exchange reserves can be decomposed into quantity and valuation (price) changes (Table I.3). Official reserves held in U.S. dollars increased by SDR 114 billion in 2000, which reflects an increase of SDR 68 billion in the quantity’ of U.S. dollar holdings and a valuation increase of SDR 46 billion. The SDR 27 billion increase in the quantity of euro holdings was partly offset by a price decline of SDR 3 billion, resulting in a net increase of SDR 24 billion in 2000. Similarly, quantity’ increases in both Japanese yen and pound sterling holdings were offset to some extent by valuation declines, resulting in net increases of SDR 7 billion and SDR 4 billion, respectively. The SDR 2 billion increase in Swiss franc holdings mostly reflects a quantity change.

Table I.3Currency Composition of Official Holdings of Foreign Exchange, End of Year1(In millions of SDRs)
199219931994199519961997199819992000
U.S. dollar
Change in holdings37,79751,24032,58273,526121,24587,79018,402108,773114,141
Quantity change25,15949,82057,32878,550103,26845,13548,54690,53268,132
Price change12,6381,420–24,746–5,02417,97642,655–30,14418,24146,009
Year-end value339,478390,718423,300496,826618,071705,861724,263833,036947,176
Japanese yen
Change in holdings–3,4166,2066,007192,685–3,1979757,1447,226
Quantity change–5,5489303,1233,0898,021–56–3,494–2,10712,010
Price change2,1325,2762,884–3,070–5,336–3,1414,4699,251–4,784
Year-end value46,81753,02359,03059,04861,73358,53659,51166,65573,880
Pound sterling
Change in holdings–2691,7214,0043,2337,3716,2021,1186,5084,493
Quantity change3,4032,0834,1393,8283,2724,6512,7576,6715,880
Price change–3,672–362–135–5954,0991,552–1,638–164–1,387
Year-end value18,91820,64024,64327,87735,24841,45142,56949,07653,569
Swiss franc
Change in holdings–4451,284–932210881–35–542711,791
Quantity change–2531,382–1,372–5411,81175–1281,2431,492
Price change–193–98439751–930–10974–972299
Year-end value6,3387,6216,6896,8997,7807,7457,6917,9629,753
Euro
Change in holdings8,268223,706
Quantity change26,71127,126
Price change–18,443–3,420
Year-end value152,632176,338
Deutsche mark
Change in holdings–8,78612,72511,86213,29614,05011,896–11,467
Quantity change–7,07618,6927,0816,81720,15922,336–15,353
Price change–1,710–5,9674,7816,478–6,109–10,4403,887
Year-end value81,82694,552106,414119,709133,759145,655134,188
French franc
Change in holdings–1,089–1301,9111,975–981–3,389–488
Quantity change–8519151,261668–335–2,038–890
Price change–238–1,0456501,306–647–1,352402
Year-end value16,29816,16818,07920,05419,07315,68315,195
Netherlands guilder
Change in holdings–2,153423–512–301–3301,138–569
Quantity change–2,146718–731–547–1521,443–708
Price change–6–295219246–178–305140
Year-end value4,1594,5824,0703,7693,4394,5774,009
European currency unit
Change in holdings–498–2,8209591,665985–3,240–47,848
Quantity change3,8451,503–1,035–1,1571,833515–49,304
Price change–4,342–4,3231,9942,822–849–3,7551,456
Year-end value59,47356,65457,61359,27860,26257,0229,174
Sum of the above3
Change in holdings21,14170,65055,88193,622145,90597,164–39,929130,963151,356
Quantity change16,53376,04469,79590,707137,87872,060–18,575123,050114,639
Price change4,608–5,394–13,9142,9158,02725,104–21,3547,91336,717
Year-end value573,308643,958699,839793,460939,3651,036,530996,6001,109,3611,260,717
Total official holdings4
Change in holdings27,30076,91861,036120,520153,745107,959–30,842132,367176,621
Year-end value673,510750,428811,464931,9841,085,7291,193,6881,162,8461,295,2131,471,834
Note: Components may not sum to totals because of rounding.

The currency composition of foreign exchange is based on the IMF’s currency survey and on estimates derived mainly, but not solely, from official national reports. The numbers in this table should be regarded as estimates that are subject to adjustment as more information is received. Quantity changes are derived by multiplying the changes in official holdings of each currency from the end of one quarter to the next by the average of the two SDR prices of that currency prevailing at the corresponding dates. This procedure converts the change in the quantity of national currency from own units to SDR units of account. Subtracting the SDR value of the quantity change so derived from the quarterly change in the SDR value of foreign exchange held at the end of two successive quarters and cumulating these differences yields the effect of price changes over the years shown.

Represents the change from end-1998 holdings of euro legacy currencies by official institutions outside the euro area.

Each item represents the sum of the currencies above.

Includes a residual whose currency composition could not be ascertained, as well as holdings of currencies other than those shown.

Note: Components may not sum to totals because of rounding.

The currency composition of foreign exchange is based on the IMF’s currency survey and on estimates derived mainly, but not solely, from official national reports. The numbers in this table should be regarded as estimates that are subject to adjustment as more information is received. Quantity changes are derived by multiplying the changes in official holdings of each currency from the end of one quarter to the next by the average of the two SDR prices of that currency prevailing at the corresponding dates. This procedure converts the change in the quantity of national currency from own units to SDR units of account. Subtracting the SDR value of the quantity change so derived from the quarterly change in the SDR value of foreign exchange held at the end of two successive quarters and cumulating these differences yields the effect of price changes over the years shown.

Represents the change from end-1998 holdings of euro legacy currencies by official institutions outside the euro area.

Each item represents the sum of the currencies above.

Includes a residual whose currency composition could not be ascertained, as well as holdings of currencies other than those shown.

Official monetary authorities comprise central banks and also currency boards, exchange stabilization funds, and treasuries, to the extent that they perform monetary authorities’ functions.

Those foreign exchange reserves that, up to December 31, 1998, were denominated in euro area former national currencies and private ecus.

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