Chapter

Appendix I. International Reserves

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
October 2002
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Total international reserves, including gold, increased by 9 percent during 2001 and stood at SDR 1.9 trillion at the end of the year (Table I.1). Foreign exchange reserves, which constitute the largest component of official reserve holdings, grew by 9 percent, to SDR 1.6 trillion. IMF-related assets, which make up the rest of nongold reserves, increased by 16 percent, to SDR 76 billion. The market value of gold held by monetary authorities increased by 2 percent in 2001, to SDR 203 billion at year-end.1

Table I.1Official Holdings of Reserve Assets1(In billions of SDRs)
199619971998199920002001March

2002
All countries
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF38.047.160.654.847.456.958.1
SDRs18.520.520.418.518.519.619.6
Subtotal, IMF-related assets56.567.681.073.265.976.477.7
Foreign exchange1,085.71,193.71,163.11,295.21,478.31,616.71,649.1
Total reserves excluding gold1,142.21,261.31,244.01,368.41,544.11,693.01,726.7
Gold2
Quantity (millions of ounces)904.9887.1966.5964.5950.6941.4937.8
Value at London market price232.4190.8190.0204.0200.2203.3226.7
Total reserves including gold1,374.61,452.11,441.61,572.41,744.31,896.41,953.4
Industrial countries
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF32.641.353.946.839.747.047.6
SDRs14.515.515.814.714.416.015.8
Subtotal, IMF-related assets47.156.869.861.554.162.963.4
Foreign exchange501.7520.9475.8524.8595.6617.1623.0
Total reserves excluding gold548.8577.7545.6586.3649.7680.0686.4
Gold2
Quantity (millions of ounces)748.2732.5808.7810.4796.5783.6779.6
Value at London market price192.1157.5165.3171.4167.8169.2188.4
Total reserves including gold740.9735.2710.9757.7817.5849.3874.8
Developing countries
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF5.45.76.78.07.79.910.5
SDRs4.05.04.53.74.13.63.8
Subtotal, IMF-related assets9.410.811.211.711.813.514.3
Foreign exchange584.1672.8687.3770.4882.7999.61,026.0
Total reserves excluding gold593.4683.6698.5782.1894.41,013.01,040.3
Gold2
Quantity (millions of ounces)156.7154.6157.9154.1154.1157.9158.2
Value at London market price40.233.332.332.632.534.138.2
Total reserves including gold633.7716.8730.7814.7926.91,047.11,078.5
Net debtor developing countries
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF3.94.25.05.65.46.46.4
SDRs2.93.93.33.13.32.72.9
Subtotal, IMF-related assets6.98.18.48.78.79.19.3
Foreign exchange448.3534.8546.8608.1699.2798.9822.7
Total reserves excluding gold455.1542.8555.1616.8707.9808.0832.0
Gold2
Quantity (millions of ounces)129.4127.9131.0127.9128.0131.7132.0
Value at London market price33.227.526.827.127.028.531.9
Total reserves including gold488.3570.4581.8643.9734.8836.4863.9
Net debtor developing countries without debt-servicing problems
Total reserves excluding gold
IMF-related assets
Reserve positions in the IMF3.53.84.64.84.65.75.7
SDRs1.83.02.62.42.12.12.2
Subtotal, IMF-related assets5.36.87.27.26.77.77.9
Foreign exchange327.2400.4425.7485.9566.5658.9684.0
Total reserves excluding gold332.5407.2432.8493.0573.1666.6691.8
Gold2
Quantity (millions of ounces)80.382.785.983.883.587.187.0
Value at London market price20.617.817.617.717.618.821.0
Total reserves including gold353.1424.9450.4510.8590.7685.4712.8
Note: Components may not sum to totals because of roundingSource: International Monetary Fund, International Financial Statistics.

End of year figures for all years except 2002. “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 are 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 of roundingSource: International Monetary Fund, International Financial Statistics.

End of year figures for all years except 2002. “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 are 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 2001. The developing countries, which held 62 percent of all foreign exchange reserves at the end of 2001, increased their holdings by 13 percent, to SDR 1 trillion, following comparable increases in the previous two years. During 2001, the foreign exchange holdings of industrial countries rose by 4 percent, to SDR 617 billion.

In 2001, the oil-exporting developing countries, which hold about 10 percent of all developing countries’ foreign exchange reserves, increased their foreign exchange assets by 7 percent, following increases of 15 percent and 28 percent in the two preceding years. Foreign exchange reserves of the net creditor developing country group rose by 9 percent, to SDR 201 billion, and those of net debtor countries grew by 14 percent to SDR 799 billion at the end of 2001. Foreign exchange reserves of net debtors without debt-servicing problems increased by 16 percent, to SDR 659 billion, while those of countries with debt-servicing problems increased by 6 percent, to SDR 140 billion.

Holdings of IMF-Related Assets

During 2001, total IMF-related assets (that is, reserve positions in the IMF and SDRs) increased by 16 percent, following declines of 10 percent in each of the previous two years. Industrial countries hold a majority of IMF-related assets: 82 percent at the end of 2001. The increase in IMFrelated assets was mainly attributable to a 20 percent growth in members’ reserve positions in the IMF—which consist of members’ reserve tranche and creditor positions—to SDR 57 billion. SDR holdings of IMF members increased by 6 percent, to SDR 20 billion, reflecting a decline in holdings by the IMF and other prescribed holders.

Gold Reserves

The market value of gold reserves increased by 2 percent, to SDR 203 billion, reflecting an increase of 3 percent in the SDR price of gold in 2001; the physical stock of official gold declined by one percent. The share of gold in officially held reserves has declined gradually to 11 percent at the end of 2001, whereas in the early 1980s gold represented about half of all officially held reserves. Most of the gold reserves (83 percent) are held by industrial countries: gold constituted 20 percent of these countries’ total reserves at the end of 2001. Gold reserves accounted for 3 percent of the total reserves of the developing countries.

Developments During First Quarter of 2002

During the first quarter of 2002, total reserve assets rose by SDR 57 billion, of which SDR 32 billion represents an increase in foreign exchange reserves. As a consequence of a rise in the SDR price of gold since the end of 2001, the market value of gold reserves increased by SDR 23 billion during the first quarter of 2002, while the physical stock of official gold declined somewhat since end-2001. Holdings of IMF related assets remained close to their end-2001 level, at SDR 78 billion.

Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves

The currency composition of foreign exchange reserves has changed gradually over the past decade, with the share of U.S. dollar holdings in foreign exchange reserves rising from 55 percent in 1992 to 68 percent in 1999 and staying at that level through the end of 2001 (Table I.2). The euro, which replaced 11 European currencies and the European currency unit (ECU) on January 1, 1999, accounted for 13 percent of total foreign exchange reserves in 2001. The share of the euro has stayed effectively unchanged since 1999. Given that, 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 1999–2001 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)
1992199319941995199619971998199920002001
All countries
U.S. dollar55.356.756.657.060.362.465.968.468.168.3
Japanese yen7.67.77.96.86.05.25.45.55.24.9
Pound sterling3.13.03.33.23.43.73.94.03.94.0
Swiss franc1.01.10.90.80.80.70.70.70.70.7
Euro12.7213.0213.02
Deutsche mark13.313.714.213.713.112.912.2
French franc2.72.32.42.31.91.41.4
Netherlands guilder0.70.70.50.40.30.40.4
ECUs39.78.27.76.85.95.00.8
Unspecified currencies46.56.66.48.98.38.49.38.89.19.0
Industrial countries
U.S. dollar48.850.250.851.856.157.966.773.573.374.5
Japanese yen7.67.88.26.65.65.86.66.56.35.5
Pound sterling2.42.22.32.12.01.92.22.32.01.8
Swiss franc0.40.30.20.10.10.10.20.10.20.4
Euro10.7310.429.71
Deutsche mark15.116.416.316.415.615.913.4
French franc2.92.62.42.31.70.91.3
Netherlands guilder0.40.40.30.20.20.2
ECUs316.715.214.613.412.010.91.9
Unspecified currencies45.74.85.07.06.76.47.46.97.68.1
Developing countries
U.S. dollar64.564.363.162.464.366.265.364.664.264.1
Japanese yen7.77.57.67.06.54.74.54.74.44.5
Pound sterling4.04.04.44.34.85.15.25.35.25.5
Swiss franc1.92.01.71.51.41.11.11.11.00.9
Euro14.215.015.3
Deutsche mark10.810.511.911.010.610.311.3
French franc2.32.02.42.32.01.81.5
Netherlands guilder1.01.00.80.60.50.60.5
ECUs3
Unspecified currencies57.78.78.010.99.910.210.810.210.19.6
Note: Components may not sum to total 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 total 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 from 8 percent at end-1992 to 5 percent at the end of 1997, and has since stayed at about that level through 2001. During the past decade, the share of pound sterling has remained 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, has remained at 9 percent since the end of 1998.

For industrial countries, the share of U.S. dollar holdings increased throughout the 1990s to reach 74 percent in 1999, and increased slightly to 75 percent at the end of 2001. The shares of the euro and the Japanese yen in those countries’ foreign exchange reserves declined by less than one percentage point each from the preceding year, to 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Shares of pound sterling and the Swiss franc have been practically unchanged over the past ten years. The share of unspecified currencies stood at 8 percent in 2001.

Table I.3Currency Composition of Official Holdings of Foreign Exchange, End of Year1(In millions of SDRs)
199319941995199619971998199920002001
U.S. dollar
Changes in holdings51,25332,57073,532121.22687,76718,391108,764118,24986,812
Quantity change49,83357,31478,555103,25045,11548,53390,52272,23251,437
Price change1,420-24,744-5,02317,97642,651-30,14218,24246,01735,375
Year-end value390,698423,269496,801618,027705,793724,185832,949951,1971,038,010
Japanese yen
Change in holdings6,2066,007192,685-3,1979757,1226,4021,730
Quantity change9303,1233,0898,021-56-3,494-2,12811,1469,178
Price change5,2762,884-3,070-5,336-3,1414,4699,250-4,745-7,448
Year-end value53,02359,03059,04861,73358,53659,51166,63473,03674,765
Pound sterling
Change in holdings1,7353,9923,2407,3536,1801,1236,4874,7787,514
Quantity change2,0954,1293,8333,2584,6302,7606,6516,1637,023
Price change-361-136-5944,0951,549-1,636-163-1,385491
Year-end value20,62024,61227,85235,20541,38542,50948,99653,77461,288
Swiss franc
Change in holdings1.284-932210881-35-542881,780575
Quantity change1,382-1,372-5411,81175-1281,2601,481468
Price change-98439751-930-10974-972299107
Year-end value7,6216,6896.8997,7807,7457,6917,9799,75910,335
Euro
Change in holdings9,786227,94715,804
Quantity change28,36831,30419,097
Price change-18,582-3,357-3,293
Year-end value154,163182,110197,914
Deutsche mark
Change in holdings12,72511,86213,29614,05011,896-11,457
Quantity change18,6927,0816,81720,15922,336-15,344
Price change-5,9674,7816,478-6,109-10,4403,887
Year-end value94,552106,414119,709133,759145,655134,198
French franc
Change in holdings-1311,9121,974-981-3,388-488
Quantity change9151,262668-334-2,037-890
Price change-1,0456501,307-647-1,352402
Year-end value16,16918,08120,05519,07415,68615,198
Netherlands guilder
Change in holdings423-512-301-3301,138-569
Quantity change718-751-547-1521,443-708
Price change-295219246-178-305140
Year-end value4,5824,0703,7693,4394,5774.009
European currency unit
Change in holdings-2,8209591,665985-3,240-47,848
Quantity change1,503-1,035-1,1571,833515-49,304
Price change-43231,9942,822-849-3,7551,456
Year-end value56,65457.61359,27860.26257,0229,174
Sum of the above3
Change in holdings70,67555,85993,635145,86897,120-39,925132,448159,156112,435
Quantity change76,06869,77290,718137,84672,021-18,576124,673122,32787,203
Price change-5,393-13,9142,9178.62225,099-21,3507,77436,83025,232
Year-end value643,919699,777793,412939,2801,036,400996,4741,110,7201,269,8761,382,312
Total official holdings4
Change in holdings76,97560,648121,118153,767107,969-30,581132,104183,255138,204
Year-end value750,192810,841931,9591,085,7261,193,6951,163,1141,295,2181,478,4731,616,677
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.

The share of the U.S. dollar in developing countries’ foreign exchange reserves was 64 percent in 2001, a level that has remained relatively constant over the last decade. Holdings of the euro accounted for 15 percent of those countries’ foreign exchange reserves, a level unchanged from the previous year and one percentage point higher than its share in 1999. During the past decade, the share of the Japanese yen has gradually decreased by about 3 percentage points, to 5 percent at the end of 2001, while the share of pound sterling has increased by about 2 percentage points, to 6 percent. The share of the Swiss franc has remained virtually unchanged at 1 percent since 1997. Unspecified currencies accounted for 10 percent of developing countries’ foreign exchange reserves in 2001.

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 87 billion in 2001, which reflects an increase of SDR 51 billion in the quantity of U.S. dollar holdings and a valuation increase of SDR 35 billion. The SDR 19 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 16 billion in 2001. Similarly, a quantity increase of SDR 9 billion in Japanese yen holdings was offset considerably by a SDR 7 billion valuation decline, resulting in a net increase of SDR 2 billion. Increases in pound sterling and Swiss franc holdings of SDR 8 billion and SDR 1 billion, respectively, are to a large extent attributable to changes in quantity.

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