The Exchange Stabilization Fund: Sponsored by the U.S. Treasury, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the International Monetary Fund

The Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) consists of three types of assets:  U.S. dollars, foreign currencies, and Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which is an international reserve asset created by the International Monetary Fund.  The financial statement of the ESF can be accessed at “Reports” or “Finances and Operations.”

The ESF can be used to purchase or sell foreign currencies, to hold U.S. foreign exchange and Special Drawing Rights (SDR) assets, and to provide financing to foreign governments. All operations of the ESF require the explicit authorization of the Secretary of the Treasury (“the Secretary”).

The Secretary is responsible for the formulation and implementation of U.S. international monetary and financial policy, including exchange market intervention policy. The ESF helps the Secretary to carry out these responsibilities. By law, the Secretary has considerable discretion in the use of ESF resources.

The legal basis of the ESF is the Gold Reserve Act of 1934. As amended in the late 1970s, the Act provides in part that “the Department of the Treasury has a stabilization fund …Consistent with the obligations of the Government in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on orderly exchange arrangements and an orderly system of exchange rates, the Secretary …, with the approval of the President, may deal in gold, foreign exchange, and other instruments of credit and securities.

SOURCE: U.S. TREASURY

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Exchange Stabilization Fund
  • The Treasury Department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) buys and sells foreign currency to promote exchange rate stability and counter disorderly conditions in the foreign exchange market.
  • The ESF is used to provide short-term credit to foreign governments and monetary authorities and to hold and administer Special Drawing Rights.
  • ESF operations are normally conducted through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its capacity as fiscal agent for the Treasury Department.

The Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) of the United States Treasury was created and originally financed by the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 to contribute to exchange rate stability and counter disorderly conditions in the foreign exchange market. The Act authorized the Secretary of the Treasury, to deal in gold, foreign exchange, securities, and instruments of credit, under the exclusive control of the Secretary of the Treasury subject to the approval of the President.

When the United States adopted the revised articles of agreement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1978, Congress amended the Gold Reserve Act to provide that the dealings of the ESF were to be consistent with U.S. obligations to the IMF. The ESF also may provide short-term credit to foreign governments and monetary authorities. These ESF “bridge loans” are financed through swaps. That is, the dollars held by the ESF are made available to a country through its central bank in exchange for the same value of that country’s currency.

The ESF is used to hold and administer Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which are assets created by the IMF that the IMF lends to countries that need help to finance balance-of-payment deficits. SDRs were created to increase international liquidity and are permanent resources of the ESF after they are allocated to, or otherwise acquired by, the United States Treasury.

SOURCE: FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK (MORE INFO)

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