The Substitution Account as a First Step Toward Reform of the International Monetary System

Peter B. Kenen (Princeton University)
Policy Brief
March 2010

The creation of a substitution account might be costly to the United States, but the cost could be greatly reduced by adopting a cost-sharing regime or assessing an annual fee on depositors. The United States also must consider the effect of reserve currency diversification by central banks that now hold larger dollar reserves than they need to cope with balance-of-payment problems. Large-scale diversification could cause extremely disorderly depreciation of the dollar. To avoid this, Kenen recommends revisiting the potential costs and benefits of a substitution account lodged in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which could act as a barrier against further development of a multi-currency reserve system.