Unleashing excess foreign exchange reserves to boost growth in Latin America

Unleashing excess foreign exchange reserves to boost growth in Latin America

In 2021, Latin American countries could be holding “excess” FX reserves of around 8.8% of GDP, with an opportunity cost to economic activity as high as 0.7% of GDP. We define excess FX reserves as covering more than 100% of a country’s external financing needs. In the past, reserves were used as a hedge against volatility and speculative attacks, and have been Latin America’s way of shielding itself from the drawbacks of financial liberalization. As a result, the region as a whole has become less vulnerable to the types of financial crises it lived through from the 1970s to the 1990s (with the exception of Venezuela, Argentina and Ecuador).

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