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World central bank reserves by region

by William Baunton

Mon 1 Sep 2014

World central bank reserves by region Enlarge Chart loading Image

What the chart shows: The total reserves including gold of all central banks around the world since 1973 by region.

Why the chart is important: It shows the rise of central banks’ reserves (including gold) and their importance in the world markets in the last 40 years. More importantly, it shows the rise of Asia-Pacific over the last two decades and in particular the rise of China.  In 1993, the People’s Bank of China* was the 14th largest central bank in the world by total reserves including gold; it is now the largest in the world with the Bank of Japan second largest.

As of Q4 2013, it had more assets than the six next largest central banks combined including the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), Swiss National Bank (SNB) and US Monetary Authorities (USMA). In August, as an example of the PBoC’s growing influence and its effort to diversify its portfolio beyond government bonds (it held $1.3tn of US treasuries as of November 2013), it was announced that it now holds just over a 2% stake in Italy’s largest insurer, Generali, as well as 2% stakes in Fiat, Telecom Italia, Eni and Enel.

Methodology: Total reserves (includes gold, current US$). Total reserves comprise holdings of monetary gold, special drawing rights, reserves of IMF members held by the IMF, and holdings of foreign exchange under the control of monetary authorities. The gold component of these reserves is valued at year-end (December 31) London prices. Data are in current U.S. dollars.

*People’s Bank of China (PBoC) includes foreign exchange managed by State Administration and Foreign Exchange (SAFE).

Sources: World Bank, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg