Philippine foreign reserves sufficiency down to near 10-year low

peso-dollar

Manila, Philippines – The Philippines’ foreign exchange reserves declined on September, bringing its sufficiency to meet the country’s needs in times of distress down to a level not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Friday, gross international reserves amounted to $75.161 billion, down from the previous month’s $77.933 billion.

The current level is adequate to cover imports for 6.8 months, the lowest since the financial crisis was developing in December 2008. During the time, reserves had an import cover of 6.4 months.

Governments around the world have built up their reserves after the crisis, precipitated by a US banking crash in September 2008, left economies struggling with less liquidity.

Reserves act as buffer funds which states tap to pay for foreign obligations like imports and debts during times of need. Before the crisis, reserves that finance at least 3 months of imports are considered adequate, but global regulators doubled that to 6 months after the crisis.

Reserves are composed of foreign money, gold, foreign investments as well as fund placements by the country in the International Monetary Fund.

The BSP, in its statement, blamed the nominal decline in reserves to “outflows arising from the foreign exchange operations” of the central bank, as well as foreign debts paid up by the government.

BSP’s foreign exchange operations basically include the selling or buying of currencies to manage the peso’s level. As the peso slumps to near 13-year-lows against the dollar, the central bank is selling dollars for pesos to boost the latter’s demand and try to keep its decline limited.

As a result, data show the value of foreign money in the reserves– which include the US dollar, the yen and euro, among others – dropped 13.3 percent month-on-month to $5.947 billion.

Foreign investments – which cornered the bulk of reserves – also dipped 2.9 percent to $59.962 billion during the same period.

IMF holdings also decreased slightly to $483.6 million, while those in the form of special drawing rights – or the IMF’s own currency – kept steady at $1.191 billion.

The BSP also said that reserves went down due to “revaluation adjustments” of its gold holdings.

This suggests that gold prices dipped in the world market, pulling down the value of its gold holdings to $7.577 billion as of last month, figures showed.

Data showed current reserves are also equivalent to 5.9 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity, and 4.2 times based on residual maturity.

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