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Mr. Olivier D Jeanne and Mr. Damiano Sandri
Financially closed economies insure themselves against current-account shocks using international reserves. We characterize the optimal management of reserves using an open-economy model of precautionary savings and emphasize several results. First, the welfare-based opportunity cost of reserves differs from the measures often used by practitioners. Second, under plausible calibrations the model is consistent with the rule of thumb that reserves should be close to three months of imports. Third, simple linear rules can capture most of the welfare gains from optimal reserve management. Fourth, policymakers should place more emphasis on how to use reserves in response to shocks than on the reserve target itself.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) evaluation on International Reserves: IMF Concerns and Country Perspectives was discussed by the Board in December 2012. This evaluation examined the IMF’s analysis of the effect of reserves on the stability of the international monetary system and its advice on reserve adequacy assessments in the context of bilateral surveillance. In the multilateral context, the evaluation acknowledged the IMF’s broader work stream on the international monetary system but noted that this work had not sufficiently informed the analysis and recommendations regarding reserves. The IEO evaluation of The Role of the IMF as Trusted Advisor was discussed by the Board in February 2013. This evaluation found that perceptions of the IMF had improved, but that they varied markedly by region and country type. Recognizing that there will always be an inherent tension between the IMF’s roles as a global watchdog and as a trusted advisor to member country authorities, the evaluation report explored how the IMF could sustain the more positive image it had achieved in the aftermath of the recent global crisis. The evaluation found that among key challenges facing the IMF were improving the value added and relevance of IMF advice and overcoming the perception of a lack of even-handedness.

International Monetary Fund
The concomitant external shocks experienced in 2008-09 by the East African Community (EAC) countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and stepped-up support by the IMF—including the SDR allocation—and other donors, are likely to arouse renewed interest in the question of the adequate level of international reserves. This paper discusses the evolution of reserve holdings in EAC countries and uses several tools for assessing reserve adequacy in the region. The analysis suggests that reserve levels in most cases seem to include safety buffers, and thus, do not require immediate action. However, the situation could become tighter if export recovery is delayed or export prices do not pick up. Over the medium term, the desirable reserve path should also be adapted to regional and international integration.
International Monetary Fund
The paper focuses on the operational implications of high and volatile aid for the design of Fund-supported programs. It provides a conceptual framework that should guide country teams in giving advice to low-income countries on a case-by-case basis, without specific quantitative performance thresholds for the spending and absorption of additional aid. In doing so, it responds to some of the concerns raised by the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) in its recent evaluation of the Fund and aid to sub-Saharan Africa