CURRENCY COMPOSITION OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES: A COMPARATIVE STUDY. Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics Griffith Business School

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1 CURRENCY COMPOSITION OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESERVES: A COMPARATIVE STUDY Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics Griffith Business School Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by TOMMY SOESMANTO B.Bus (Hons) (QUT) August 2008

2 ABSTRACT The United States (US) dollar has been the principal currency used for reserve purposes by central banks worldwide for many years. However, uncertainties about the future strength of the US economy and the exchange value of the US dollar have led to pressure for a number of central banks particularly in developing countries, to consider shifting their US dollar reserve holdings to other reserve currencies. Since its creation in 1999 the euro has represented a serious alternative to the US dollar. Some authors have forecast that the euro is likely to replace the US dollar as the principal reserve currency in the near future. If a major portfolio re-balancing away from the US dollar occurs, there may be serious implications for both the US and the global economy. A deeper understanding of how central banks manage currency composition of foreign exchange (FX) reserves needs to be established in order to evaluate the likely developments in this area. The transaction theory and the mean-variance theory have served as the main conceptual frameworks for studies in this field. They have been useful in identifying factors which may theoretically affect FX reserve holdings. However, empirical studies of the two theories have been very limited in both number and in the range and number of countries covered. This study contributes to research in this area by presenting a comprehensive empirical investigation of the determinants of the currency composition of FX reserves, based on the frameworks proposed by the transaction theory, as well as that proposed by the meanvariance theory. The study covers a wider range of countries than previous estimations to ii

3 date, including a detailed comparative examination of the management of FX reserves for a single country, Australia. It also uses more recent data than any previous studies, which allows a more complete analysis of the impact of the euro since its introduction in More specifically, the study aims to address the following six research questions: 1) How well do the factors suggested by the transaction theory explain the management of currency composition of FX reserves globally over recent years? 2) How do the developed and developing countries differ in the management of their portfolios of reserve currencies, particularly in their attitudes towards the US dollar versus the euro? 3) What changes have happened in the management of the currency composition of reserves following the introduction of the euro in 1999? 4) How well do the factors suggested by the transaction theory explain the management of FX reserves in Australia? 5) How relevant are the factors suggested by the mean-variance theory in the determination of shares of FX reserves in Australia? 6) Is it likely that the US dollar will maintain its principal reserve currency status? Are there any similarities in the responses by central banks globally, central banks in the sub-groups of developed or developing nations, or the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)? What differences are likely to occur? The study finds that two transaction factors, the incumbency advantage of the reserve currency, and the share of trade of the currency country, are important for the iii

4 management of the currency composition of FX reserves globally, and for both groups of developed countries and developing countries. Amongst the developed nations group, the incumbency advantage of the US dollar has remained the primary concern for this group in managing their reserve currencies. By contrast, developing countries as a group appear to place less emphasis on past holdings of the US dollar and more emphasis on other transaction factors like trade. Furthermore, the study finds that the euro seems to have had had little impact in how central banks manage their holdings of reserves. The importance of incumbency advantage as a key factor in managing FX is likely to assist in the maintenance of the US dollar as the principal reserve currency globally and in the group of the developed countries. Amongst developing nations however, the euro has begun to show some of its appeal as a reserve currency. With regard to the management of reserve currencies in Australia, the study finds that both the mean-variance theory and the transaction theory are important in playing a combined role in the determination of currency composition of FX reserves in the country. All in all, the combined results of the study indicate that the US dollar is likely to remain as the principal reserve currency used by central banks globally, central banks in developed countries and the RBA. However, amongst developing countries, the study finds that this group of nations is now considering placing more emphasis on keeping and possibly increasing their holdings of euro, as opposed to maintaining their principal holdings in US dollars. iv

5 TABLE OF CONTENTS List of Figures xii List of Tables xiii Acknowledgements xv Statement of Originality xvi Abbreviations xvii 1. Introduction The Significance of the Issue Objectives, Research Questions and Contributions Outline of the Study 5 2. Theoretical and Empirical Evidence on the Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves Introduction Mean-Variance Theory Overview Mean-Variance Portfolio Optimization Theory Expected Return and Expected Risk Expected Return and Risk of a Portfolio Key Assumptions of Portfolio Optimization Theory Efficient Portfolio Opportunity Set Asset Shares for the Optimal Portfolio Efficient Portfolios and Investor Preferences Limitations of Portfolio Optimization Theory 23 Identical Means and Variance 23 v

6 Uncertain Risk Preferences 24 Applicability to Central Banks Empirical Studies of the Mean-Variance Theory 26 Ben-Bassat (1980) 26 Dellas and Chin (1991) 29 Papaioannou et al. (2006) Transaction Theory Overview Transaction versus Mean-Variance Theory: Which is More Applicable? Transaction Theory of Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves The Transaction Theory Model of Dooley et al. (1989) Net and Gross Asset Positions Incorporating Transaction Cost Transaction Costs and the Currency Composition of Reserves The Transaction Theory Model of Eichengreen (1998) Empirical Studies of the Transaction Theory Heller and Knight (1978) 50 Dooley et al. (1989) 51 Eichengreen (1998) 52 Eichengreen and Mathieson (2000) 53 Chinn and Frankel (2005) Conclusion The Euro and Its Potential Role as Reserve Currency Introduction The Euro: Its History and Performance Overview The History of Euro 60 vi

7 3.2.3 The Euro and the Eurozone The Euro: Its Performance and Use The Potential Role of Euro as Reserve Currency Overview Optimistic Views on the Dominance of the Euro Pessimistic Views on the Dominance of the Euro Conclusion Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves: Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries Introduction Modelling the Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves Overview Transaction Factors that Influence the Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves 81 Size and Growth of the Economy of the Currency Country 81 Trading Volume of Currency country 82 Development of Financial Market in the Currency Country 83 Confidence in the Value of the Currency 83 Network Externalities and Incumbency Advantage Results and Methodologies of Previous Empirical Studies Overview Eichengreen (1998) Chinn and Frankel (2005) Post Euro Analyses of the Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves: Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries Overview The Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves ( ) Data and Methodology 97 vii

8 4.4.4 Results of the Estimation How well do the transaction theory factors explain the management of currency composition of foreign exchange reserves for the period 1980 to 2005? How do the developed and developing countries differ in the management of their portfolios of reserve currencies, particularly in their attitudes toward the dollar versus the euro? What changes have there been in the management of the currency composition of foreign exchange reserves following the introduction of the euro in Conclusion Analysis of the Management of Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserve in Australia Introduction Management of Foreign Currency Reserves in Practice Overview Common Framework for the Management of Foreign Exchange Reserves 131 Factors Affecting the Desired Level of Reserves 131 Use of Segregated Investment Trances 132 Instruments Used in Portfolio Investment 132 Different Management Styles Adopted by Central Banks 133 Determining the Optimal Portfolio Benchmarks Foreign Exchange Reserves Management Adopted by the Reserve Bank of Australia 135 Portfolio Benchmarks Adopted by the RBA 135 Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves of the RBA 136 viii

9 5.3 Previous Research on the Management of Foreign Exchange Reserves in Individual Countries Overview Methodologies and Results of Dooley et al. (1989) Transaction Theory Based Analysis on the Management of the Currency Composition of Reserves in Australia Overview Data and Methodology Results of the Estimation of the Currency Composition of Reserves for Australia Conclusion The Optimal Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves of Australia Introduction Previous studies on the Use of Portfolio Optimization in the Management of Foreign Currency Reserves Overview Methodologies and Results of Ben-Bassat (1980) Study Results of Dellas and Chin (1991) Study Results of Papaioannou et al. (2006) Study Portfolio Optimization of Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves of Australia Data and Methodology Results Conclusion 180 ix

10 7. Conclusion The Issue Summary of the Main Findings Direction for Further Research 192 Appendix A: Results of Stationary Testing of the Variables in in Grouped Data Estimations 194 Appendix B: Correlation Matrices of the Independent Variables in Grouped Data Estimations 212 Appendix C: Results of Serial Correlation Testing of Residuals in Grouped Data Estimations 220 Appendix D: Detailed Results of Grouped Data Estimations 223 Appendix E: Results of Testing for Structural Break in Grouped Data Estimations 242 Appendix F: Detailed Results of Estimation of Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves of Australia 244 Appendix G: Results of Stationary Testing of the Variables in Individual Country Data Estimation 247 Appendix H: Correlation Matrices of Independent Variables in the Estimation of Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves of Australia 253 Appendix I: Results of Serial Correlation Testing of Residuals in the Estimation of Foreign Exchange Reserves in Australia 256 x

11 Appendix J: Import Share Weights of Australia by Country of Origin 257 Bibliography 261 xi

12 LIST OF FIGURES 2.1 Efficient Portfolio Opportunity Set Efficient Portfolios and Investor Preferences Optimal Portfolio Selection Model of Sharpe(1964) and Lintner (1965) Gross and Net Foreign Asset and Liability Position (Two Currency Model) Reserve Holdings and Transaction Structure Composition of GDP of Eurozone (2005) Composition of Exports of Eurozone (2005) Comparison of GDP of US and Eurozone ( ) Dollar-Euro Exchange Rates: (Euro to 1 USD) Currency Distribution of Reported Global Foreign Exchange Market Turnover: Percentage Shares of Average Daily Turnover in April Global Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves ( ) Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves of Developed Countries Group ( ) Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves of Developing Countries Group ( ) RBA s Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves (March 2000-December 2006) Efficiency Curve for Estimation in terms of US Dollars Efficiency Curve for Estimation in terms of Import Share Weights Efficiency Curve for Estimation in terms of Invoice Currency Weights Actual Composition of FX Reserves of the RBA (March 2000-August 2007) 176 xii

13 LIST OF TABLES 4.1 Global Composition of Reserves: Effect of Output, Trade and History ( ) Panel Regression on Logit Transformation of Shares: Pre Euro Period ( ) Summary of All Systems Estimation on World Countries Group ( ): Logistic Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable Summary of All Systems Estimation on World Countries Group ( ): Linear Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable Summary of All Systems Estimation on Developed Countries Group ( ): Logistic Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable Summary of All Systems Estimation on Developing Countries Group ( ): Logistic Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable Summary of All Systems Estimation on Developed Countries Group ( ): Linear Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable Summary of All Systems Estimation on Developing Countries Group ( ): Linear Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable 115 xiii

14 4.9 Summary of All Systems Estimation on World Countries Group ( ): Logistic Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable Summary of All Systems Estimation on Developed Countries Group ( ): Logistic Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable Summary of All Systems Estimation on Developing Countries Group ( ): Logistic Functional Form used on Reserve Currencies Shares Variable Currency Allocation, Asset Allocation and Duration of RBA s Benchmarks Benchmark Composition of Instruments used by the RBA Estimation of Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves of Australia (March 2000-December 2006) Import Share Weight of Australia by Country of Origin (2006) Invoice Currencies Weight for Australian Imports (March 2002-March 2003) Composition of Optimal Portfolios Mean and Standard Deviation of Estimated Portfolios of Foreign Exchange Assets 173 xiv

15 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This thesis has benefited greatly from the help and encouragement generously offered by a wide range of people. In the initial data collection stage, I am indebted to the staff at the International Monetary Fund, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, who went out their way to answer my numerous questions, to assist me to determine what data was actually available, and to enable me to access it. I am also grateful for the many helpful comments I have received during the progress of the thesis, particularly from participants and presenters at the 2006 Academy of World Business and Management Conference held by University of Southern Queensland, the 2008 International Conference in Social Sciences and Humanities held by University of Sains Malaysia, and the seminar series held by the Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith University. To my supervisors, Dr Robyn Swift and Professor Tom Nguyen, my thanks for their faith in my ability to do this thesis and to do it well, for their assistance in the preparation of the thesis, and for always having the time to consult me when things do not seem to make any progress. Finally, to my lovely wife, Sanny and my beautiful baby girl, Cadence, thank you for being with me throughout this time. You two are truly blessings from our Lord Jesus. xv

16 STATEMENT OF ORIGINALITY This work has not previously been submitted for a degree or diploma in any university. To the best of my knowledge and belief, the thesis contains no material previously published or written by another person except where due reference is made in the thesis it self. Tommy Soesmanto August 2008 xvi

17 ABBREVIATIONS ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics BIS - Bank for International Settlements CPI - Consumer Price Index DW - Durbin Watson ECB - European Central Bank EMS - European Monetary System EMU - European Monetary Union EU - European Union EURIBOR - European Interbank Offered Rate FX - Foreign Exchange GDP - Gross Domestic Product GLS - Generalised Least Squares IMF - International Monetary Fund KPSS - Kwiatowski, Phillips, Schmidt & Shin LIBOR - London Interbank Offered Rate OECD - Organization for Economic Co-operation Development OLS - Ordinary Least Squares RBA - Reserve Bank of Australia SCLS - Symmetrically Censored Least Squares SDR - Special Drawing Rights SUR - Seemingly Unrelated Regression UK - United Kingdom US - United States USA - United States of America xvii

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