Euro’s Reserve Status Jeopardized as Central Banks Dump Holdings

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Baku, April 13, AZERTAC

Quantitative easing may be helping Europe achieve its economic targets, but it’s also undermining the long-term viability of the euro by tarnishing its allure as a global reserve currency.

Central banks cut their euro holdings by the most on record last year in anticipation of losses tied to unprecedented stimulus. The euro now accounts for just 22 percent of worldwide reserves, down from 28 percent before the region’s debt crisis five years ago, while dollar and yen holdings have both climbed, the latest data from the International Monetary Fund show.

“As a reserve currency, the euro is falling apart,” said Daniel Fermon, a strategist at Societe Generale SA in Paris. “As long as you have full quantitative easing, there’s no need to invest. The problem for the moment is we don’t see a floor for the currency. Money’s flowing out.”

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has in the past welcomed the drop-off in reserve managers’ holdings because a weaker exchange rate makes the continent more competitive. Yet firms including Mizuho Bank Ltd. warn the currency’s waning popularity reflects a more lasting loss of confidence in an economy that shrank in two of the past three years.

“Global reserve managers may be thinking the euro is going to sink economically if it continues this way,” said Daisuke Karakama, the Tokyo-based chief market economist at Mizuho and a former European Commission official. With yen allocations rising, “they may be expecting Japan’s positive economic growth to continue as a result of” that nation’s record stimulus, Karakama said.

The decline in euro reserves suggests other central banks consider the ECB’s 1.1 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) of QE bond purchases, which started a month ago, to be the biggest threat to the currency’s global status since its 1999 debut.

Greece’s debt woes aren’t helping, either. The ECB ramped up the emergency funding available to Greek banks Thursday to alleviate the country’s worsening liquidity issues amid drawn-out negotiations over its bailout.

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