Currency and gold reserves worldwideTo secure and stabilize a currency, the money in circulation is deposited with real values. The country's central banks thus provide an actual value for banknotes and coins issued — as well as non-physically available bank deposits on bank accounts.
Gold is probably the best-known currency reserve, but the proportion of gold reserves is often in the single-digit percentage range or even completely absent. Instead, foreign currency assets, special drawing rights in the International Monetary Fund and other reserve positions are used as currency reserves.
Gold reservesGold is a precious metal and is held in the form of gold bars or coins. Although gold is subject to appreciable fluctuations in value, which vary by supply and demand, the precious metal retains a much more stable value in relation to other forms of investment, which guarantees a degree of stability even during economic crises.
The most famous gold deposits in the world are the Fort Knox (Kentucky) and the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. In recent decades, more and more central banks have sold large portions of their gold holdings. While around 60 percent of all currency reserves were invested in gold in 1960, today they make up less than 10 percent. As a result of the massively increased price of gold over the past few years, inventories have also risen in value — which in turn has led to the gradual sale of further gold reserves without reducing the monetary value of the reserves.
Foreign exchange reservesForeign exchange reserves include not only cash balances in foreign currencies, but also bank deposits, bonds and debt securities. By using foreign currencies, exchange-rate speculation can lead to higher yields on the one hand, but also losses on the other. Foreign exchange reserves can become problematic when there are larger stocks in the currency of a country that is itself in trouble. With currency losses of this foreign country, the values of the reserves would also decrease, which leads to turbulence or devaluation.
National money and foreign reservesBroad money displayed in billions of US dollar.
The euro countries are listed separately below this table.
in bn USD
|Sao Tome and Principe **||0||48.5%||0.0%|
|South Sudan **||2,542||14.2%||0.0%|
Reserve assets in the Euro area 2022For the euro, the determination of the money supply at state level is statistically possible, but not particularly meaningful for hedging the overall currency. Therefore, the euro countries jointly take on the task of securing their common currency proportionately with reserves. The following table shows the currency reserves of the individual euro countries and the gold reserves contained therein.
The total amount of M3 money supply in the euro zone in 2022 added up to 16.09 trillion euros. The German share alone amounted to about 3.84 trillion euros, or about 23.9 percent. For this share, the German central banks provided 277.6 billion euros, or 26.0 percent of all currency reserves.
Out of a total of 16.09 trillion euros only 6.6 percent have been secured by currency reserves. This is less than every 15th euro.
|Country||Currency reserves||of which gold|
|Germany||293,914 m €||66.5%|
|France||242,416 m €||58.6%|
|Italy||224,581 m €||63.6%|
|Spain||92,905 m €||17.7%|
|Netherlands||63,353 m €||56.3%|
|Belgium||41,274 m €||32.1%|
|Austria||33,078 m €||49.3%|
|Portugal||32,232 m €||69.2%|
|Croatia||29,726 m €||0.4%|
|Finland||16,036 m €||17.8%|
|Ireland||13,039 m €||5.4%|
|Greece||12,061 m €||55.2%|
|Slovakia||10,280 m €||18.0%|
|Lithuania||5,365 m €||6.3%|
|Latvia||4,460 m €||8.7%|
|Luxembourg||2,874 m €||4.5%|
|Slovenia||2,268 m €||8.2%|
|Estonia||2,217 m €||0.7%|
|Montenegro||2,041 m €||0.0%|
|Cyprus||1,723 m €||47.0%|
|Kosovo||1,248 m €||0.0%|
|Malta||1,199 m €||0.3%|
|San Marino||954 m €||0.0%|
|Total||1,129,242 m €||53.0%|
The International Monetary FundThe basic idea of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is relatively simple: before a country gets into an economic imbalance, the community jumps in and supports this country with predetermined amounts of money. These are the "special drawing rights" that a country can use to "borrow" additional money. Almost all countries of the United Nations are represented in the IMF with its 189 member states.
Cryptocurrencies without countervaluesOne of the biggest criticisms of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum is the lack of countervalues. Cryptocurrencies arise practically out of nowhere and, except a few bits and bytes, they have neither a material value, nor a deposited countervalue. Considering that the US dollar is one of the largest currencies in the world and represents only zero percent of its countervalue, this criticism needs to be applied to many of the traditional and official currencies as well.
All data are based on the publications issued by the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. All values are to be understood at the end of the given year.
** Data for December 2020
all other information for December 2022