Escasez de dolares…

Stephen Cecchetti, del BIS, en su presentación para un congreso organizado por la Fed de San Francisco, brindo los motivos de la escasez y la razón por la renovación de las lineas swap

As I suggested at the outset, the recent crisis has brought the costs of international financial integration into greater relief. The US financial sector created a wide range of securities and sold them to banks and investors around the world. In some cases, the underwriting was bad and risks were improperly appraised. But even when this was not the case, currency mismatches were created on the balance sheets of non-US holders of the dollar-denominated assets. These assets were financed by a combination of wholesale borrowing, where a non-US bank would simply borrow dollars from a bank that had them, and foreign exchange swap arrangements, where the bank would swap its domestic currency liabilities into dollars. Importantly, both of these funding mechanisms – borrowing and swaps – are short term whereas the dollar assets held by the banks are long term.
How big is this problem? My colleagues at the BIS have used the international banking statistics to separate banks into those with more dollar assets than dollar liabilities, labelled long dollar”, and those with fewer dollar assets than liabilities, labelled short dollar.2 Graph 2 shows these two groups not only for dollars, but for other currencies as well. I would like to focus your attention on the red line at the top of the graph’s left-hand panel. What this line means is that the banks – these are Canadian, Dutch, German, Swiss, UK and Japanese banks – require an estimated aggregate of $1.2 trillion (net) in US dollars. During the crisis, because of disruptions to these markets, these obligations ultimately could only be met through international FX swap arrangements among central banks. And, critically, over the last three years this number has not fallen! If you were wondering why the swap arrangements had to be reinstated on 9 May, now you know.


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