This paper focusses on the use of a currency to denominate liabilities such as loans or bonds — more precisely, the value of being able to issue debt externally in one’s own local currency. It considers, in particular, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, arguing that global currency markets remain dominated by the US dollar and a very few other global currencies. Such currencies make up the vast majority of spot trading, derivative trading and bond issuance. It is likely that the massive liquidity advantage that these currencies maintain is one driver for why emerging economies continue to find it economically efficient to issue external debt in foreign currency rather than in local currency.

Part of Series

In December 2012, the Asian Development Bank, CIGI and the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research co-hosted a conference in Hong Kong, China. The papers in this series, authored by esteemed academic and policy experts, were presented at the conference and were subsequently revised. These working papers are being published simultaneously by all three partners.
  • Andrew Powell is the principal advisor in the research department of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). He holds B.A., M.Phil. and D.Phil. degrees from the University of Oxford. He won the Deloitte Prize for the best economic papers in the B.A. and was Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. He was then lecturer (associate professor) at the University of London and subsequently at Warwick University.