Journal Issue

World Economy in Transition

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
June 1983
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International reserves: 1948-82

A sharp increase in the total value of international reserves (excluding gold) of all countries has occurred since 1970. During 1970-82, reserves grew at a compound annual rate of 18 per cent compared with 5 per cent between end-1948 and end-1969. Foreign exchange holdings constitute the bulk of total reserves. Countries’ gold holdings, valued at SDR 35 per ounce, remained virtually constant from end-1948 to end-1982; when valued at market prices, however, they recorded an annual compound rate of growth of 21 per cent between end-1970 and end-1982.

Countries’ international reserves (excluding gold) are defined as monetary authorities’ gross holdings of foreign exchange and special drawing rights (SDRs), together with their reserve positions in the Fund. SDRs are reserve assets created by the Fund, and reserve positions in the Fund arise from countries’ subscriptions to the Fund in reserve assets, from the Fund’s net use of members’ currencies, and from Fund borrowings under the various borrowing arrangements—except for borrowing under the policy on enlarged access to resources with a maturity of less than three and one half years. (For further information on the Fund accounts, see the IFS Supplement on Fund Accounts (Series No. 3) published in 1982.) Foreign exchange includes holdings by monetary authorities of claims on foreigners in the form of bank deposits, treasury bills, short- and long-term government securities, and other claims usable in the event of a balance of payments financing need. They include nonmarketable claims arising from inter-central bank and intergovernmental arrangements, without regard to the currency in which the individual claims are denominated.

Note: All figures used in the text and charts are based on the SDR-denominated data.

Billions of SDRs

Per cent

Months of imports

Billions of SDRs

Source IMF Data Fund.

Official holdings of foreign exchange: all countries, 1973 and 19811

(In per cent)

Source: IMF. Annual Report of the Executive Board, 1982

1 Includes reporting Fund members, Switzerland, and Nether lands Antilles.

2 Of which European Currency Units (ECUs).

Guest article

As most of our readers realize, Finance & Development is a “house journal” that disseminates, to a larger international audience, material drawn from the studies and reports prepared by the staff of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Some of our articles discuss and elucidate the policies and activities of the two institutions, while others cover topics of general interest in the field of international economic relations or domestic economic policies. With this issue, Finance & Development opens its pages to a guest contributor. It is planned to carry other guest articles in future issues on an experimental basis. One of the aims is to introduce an element of dialogue and debate into the journal; it should be emphasized that the views expressed in guest articles are the authors’ own and do not reflect those of the Bank, the Fund, or the staff of the two institutions. Guest articles, which are written strictly by the invitation of the Editor, will cover issues of general interest and, where appropriate, will be followed by a rejoinder from a Bank or Fund staff member. The comments of readers on this feature are welcome.

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