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Should Larger Reserve Holdings Be More Diversified?

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Executive Summary

The notable increase in international reserve holdings over the past decade and their use during the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 has sparked renewed interest in the analysis of the optimal level of reserve holdings, in particular in countries which are subject to sudden stops. Less attention has been given to the optimal composition of reserves and even less to the joint determination of level and composition. In light of current developments, the authors show that despite the common belief that higher reserve levels should go along with higher diversification to minimize the opportunity costs from holding reserves, the opposite may even be true. It depends on the factors that stand behind the increase in reserves whether increased diversification is optimal or not.

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