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10 Takeaways From the IMF's COFER Report

7. In Q4, the dollar's biggest moves were against the European currencies. The dollar appreciated against both the euro and the Swiss franc over 4%. Sterling declined nearly 1% and the dollar advanced 1.4% against the yen.

8. After adjusting for valuation swings, the key takeaway is that the large share of the reserve accumulation in dollars reflects currency strength, rather than accumulation. In fact, emerging and developing countries reduced their holdings of USD -- though it is likely that EM reserve managers reduced their holdings in part to stabilize their own currencies through intervention.

The Bank of Japan's record currency intervention, at $118 billion, also boosted demand for the dollar. Given the rise in USD holdings were $49 billion, this indicates that outside the BOJ reserve managers diverted their share of holdings out of USD.

9. There is a clear difference of reserve preference between the advanced industrialized countries and EM countries. The former continues to hold a larger share of its accumulated reserves in dollars (66%) than the latter (57%). The absolute share is also higher. However, the recent pace of accumulation is also higher in the industrialized countries, when compared to the developing countries, due to the record BOJ intervention. This was partially offset by the roll-off of Swiss National Bank swaps used to inject liquidity. However the change in the industrialized countries claims in USD stems largely from the operations of the BOJ and SNB.

10. The claims in other currencies continue to increase. Indeed, both advanced and developing countries stepped up their purchases of other currencies. The pace was higher in developing countries, as developing countries purchased nearly $18 billion in other currencies. Valuation is also less of a constraint here. This suggests that the moves in this category are likely to be conscious decisions to diversify currency holdings, with EM countries accounting for roughly 90% of the recent change.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
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