The decade-long surge in foreign-currency reserves held by the world’s central banks is coming to an end.
Global reserves declined to $11.6 trillion in March from a record $12.03 trillion in August 2014, halting a five-fold increase that began in 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While the drop may be overstated because the strengthening dollar reduced the value of other reserve currencies such as the euro, it still underlines a shift after central banks — with most of them located in developing nations like China and Russia — added an average $824 billion to reserves each year over the past decade.
Beyond being emblematic of the dollar’s return to its role as the world’s undisputed dominant currency, the drop in reserves has several potential implications for global markets. It could make it harder for emerging-market countries to boost their money supply and shore up faltering economic growth; it could add to declines in the euro; and it could damp demand for U.S. Treasury bonds.