Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Russia Sheds Dollars for Euros

The Moscow Times (via Brad Setser)

The euro's share in Russia's forex reserves, the world's third-largest, overtook that of the dollar last year as the country pressed on with a gradual diversification, the Central Bank's annual report showed.

The euro's share increased to 47.5 percent as of Jan. 1 from 42.4 percent a year ago, according to the report, which was submitted to the State Duma on Monday.

The dollar's share fell to 41.5 percent from 47 percent at the start of 2008 and 49 percent at the start of 2007.

As Brad points out:
It is often asserted that the dollar is the global reserve currency. It would be more accurate to say the dollar is the globe’s leading reserve currency.* The dollar is the dominant reserve currency in Northeast Asia. And the two big economies of Northeast Asia both happen to both hold far more reserves than either really needs. The dollar is also the reserve currency of the Gulf. And Latin America.**

But the dollar isn’t the dominant reserve currency along the periphery of the eurozone. Most European countries that aren’t part of the euro area now keep most of their reserves in euros. That makes sense. Most trade far more with Europe than the US – and some, especially in Eastern Europe, ultimately want to join the eurozone.

* The rise in global reserves means that the world’s central banks hold more euros as part of their reserves now than they held dollars in 2000. If demand for dollars hadn’t risen any more, the rise in demand for euro-denominated reserves would be a big story …

** Best that I can tell, South and Southeast Asia generally hold a far lower share of their reserves in dollars than the big countries in Northeast Asia.
Go read his whole piece here

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