Argentina added US$1 billion in badly-needed foreign reserves thanks to an unexpected source: the recent gold rally.
After losing US$4 billion from its net reserves since the beginning of the year amid political and economic volatility, an unusually large holding in gold has given Argentina’s Central bank balance sheet a boost. Gold represents close to nine percent of its total international reserves – the largest proportion among main central banks in Latin America – making it a winner from a 30 percent jump in prices of the precious metal this year.
It’s welcome news as greenbacks have been flowing out of the country’s reserves even amid tight capital controls. Argentina’s net reserves, which excludes foreign obligations, had fallen to US$7.8 billion this year, according to calculations from consulting firm Eco Go.
“The drop in net reserves was softened by almost a billion by the rally in gold prices,” said Federico Furiase, director at Eco Go.
Bolivia is another South American country that greatly benefited from the gold rally as it has almost a third of its reserves invested in the metal. On the other end of the spectrum lies Uruguay, whose central bank sold the last of its gold holdings in 2001.
“Diversification of reserve assets is a healthy policy,” said Fernando Losada, head of emerging markets research at Oppenheimer & Co. “Holding some gold may be advisable to reduce valuation risks in central bank’s balance sheet.”
by Ignacio Olivera Doll & Ken Parks, Bloomberg