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The COFER Report is the most useful public source of data on central bank reserve allocations. The IMF publishes the report quarterly and it may be accessed from their website.

The research divides 149 nations into three categories: globe, advanced economies, and emerging and developing economies. The reserve composition of reporting central banks in each category is then broken out.

Allocated and unallocated reserves are added together to provide the total reported FX holdings of all central banks in IMF statistics.
Allocated Reserves: This component is further divided into currency claims. The reported currencies include USD, JPY, GBP, Euro, CHF, and “other”. Until 1999, claims in former Deutsche Mark, French Franc, and Netherlands Guilder are also covered for historical reasons. Other currencies include the Australian and Canadian dollars, the Russian rouble, the Brazilian real, and gold.
Unallocated Reserves: This item records FX reserves of central banks reporting to the IFS but not to the COFER, whose currency composition is unknown.
Each quarterly report updates previous data.


While COFER is a highly useful tool for forex analysis, it is limited by several issues. First, each central bank's currency composition is secret. The report only gives aggregated data on total reserves from all reporting central banks, which can be distorted by circumstances affecting only a few. Second, because data is supplied voluntarily, it cannot be utilised as a random sample of central bank reserves. Europe and the Western Hemisphere have the highest stated central bank ratio.

We can analyse COFER data in two ways. As international claims rise in line with central bank reserves, we can obtain insight into the dynamism of global trade and the rate of global imbalance growth. Each dollar in a central bank's vault represents a claim on another country's economy; the larger these claims, the greater the global imbalances. Also, evaluating the currency composition of global reserves might help us understand longer-term forex patterns, since currencies that make up a larger share of overall central bank reserves and are actively acquired for diversification are more likely to appreciate. Because international trade is largely conducted in dollars, central banks end up with excess dollars, but prefer to reallocate reserves to other currencies to diversify.


The COFER report's biggest flaw is its lack of coverage of Asia and the Middle East/Africa, where exporter nations with the highest foreign reserves tend to cluster. Another issue is that while currencies like the Euro and the USD are well covered, information on reserve goods like gold is not. However, no other public publication covers the central bank portion of the currency market as thoroughly as COFER. The death of the USD, for example, may be easily verified using COFER data. It is, in short, a really valuable piece of data, whose interpretation is somewhat biassed by the commentator.