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Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Barry J. Eichengreen, and Chima Simpson-Bell
After moving slowly downward for the better part of four decades, central bank gold holdings have risen since the Global Financial Crisis. We identify 14 “active diversifiers,” defined as countries that purchased gold and raised its share in total reserves by at least 5 percentage points over the last two decades. In contrast to the diversification of foreign currency reserves, which has been undertaken by advanced and developing country central banks alike, active diversifiers into gold are exclusively emerging markets. We document two sets of factors contributing to this trend. First, gold appeals to central bank reserve managers as a safe haven in periods of economic, financial and geopolitical volatility, when the return on alternative financial assets is low. Second, the imposition of financial sanctions by the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Japan, the main reserve-issuing economies, is associated with an increase in the share of central bank reserves held in the form of gold. There is some evidence that multilateral sanctions imposed by these, and other countries have a larger impact than unilateral sanctions on the share of reserves held in gold, since the latter leave scope for shifting reserves into the currencies of other non-sanctioning countries.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is recovering from the pandemic and 2021 volcanic eruptions. Despite the authorities’ strong efforts to contain deficits, critical fiscal responses to these shocks pushed up public debt, which—while assessed as sustainable—remains at high risk of distress should future shocks materialize. The economy is projected to grow by 5 percent in 2022, supported by large-scale investment projects and recoveries in tourism and agriculture. Surging commodity prices, fueled by Russia’s war in Ukraine, are expected to raise inflation sharply to 5.8 percent in 2022, adding to fiscal and external pressures and weighing on the recovery. So far, the financial system has weathered the shocks relatively well. The outlook is subject to significant downside risks primarily from an abrupt slowdown in trading partners’ growth, potential delays in investment projects including due to supply chain disruptions, and the ever-present threat of frequent natural disasters.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
The remote technical assistance (TA) mission provided guidance to the National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus (BelStat) on the preliminary estimates of the Financial Accounts and Balance Sheets (FABS) for 2017. The TA mission assisted with compiling the revaluation and the other changes in volume accounts to give better consistency to the financial flows and stocks and improve the reconciliation process of the FABS. BelStat is in charge of compiling the current accounts for all the institutional sectors and is starting to compile the financial accounts for which important progress has been made. To regularly compile FABS, the mission recommended that BelStat addresses the discrepancies between the net lending/borrowing from the capital and the financial account by incorporating more data sources such as government’s financial stocks and business accounting data. The TA mission also provided guidance on compiling the Financial Intermediation Services Indirectly Measured (FISIM) to get a more consistent estimate. The mission highlighted the progress made and encouraged BelStat to continue working on compiling FABS for 2017 and onwards.