Middle East and Central Asia > Uzbekistan, Republic of

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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.
Moayad Al Rasasi and Ezequiel Cabezon
Uzbekistan has significantly improved its monetary policy framework during 2017-21. Nevertheless, the transition to inflation targeting is challenging as the country is going through a period of deep structural reforms. Therefore, the Central Bank of Uzbekistan (CBU) will have to monitor structural reforms and calibrate monetary policy accordingly. This paper identifies institutional and structural gaps, and assesses the effectiveness of monetary policy transmission. Institutional gaps are assessed using institutional indexes while transmission is assessed using VARs. It concludes that in the coming years, reforms will need to continue, to further improve the CBU’s governance and independence, develop financial markets, but most of all to reduce the still large footprint of the state in the financial sector as well as in the overall economy.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Uzbekistan embarked on an ambitious reform path in 2017, starting to liberalize its economy after years of state control. Incomes are still relatively low compared to other emerging economies and the role of the state is still large. Uzbekistan weathered the pandemic relatively well. Strong fundamentals, ample policy buffers, and high gold prices allowed the authorities to take strong actions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and growth accelerated to 7.4 percent in 2021.