Why Currency Reserves Matter

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This goes in the “obscure but sort of important” folder. Eduardo Porter reports that developing countries are building up excessively large currency reserves, partly as “insurance against financial disaster.” Rather tragically, these countries tend to lose money on all the dollars they’re buying up—and it’s not like they can really afford to lose money here—and what’s worse, the money they spend padding their reserves is money they’re not spending on important things, like health care or infrastructure or other domestic investments.

So why are they all doing it? Dean Baker and Karl Walentin have argued before that it’s because everyone thinks the international financial system is rather volatile and no one wants to go through the same meltdown that countries in East Asia suffered in the late ’90s. But the fact that these poorer countries all have to incur very large costs because of a rickety system set up largely to benefit the richer countries indicates, as Baker and Walentin wrote, “a serious failing of international financial institutions.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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