Charting The Most Powerful Reserve Currencies in the World

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Most people assume the U.S. dollar holds the top spot for currencies. But by how much? Have you ever wondered which of the world’s reserve currencies are the most powerful?

Reserve currencies are currencies that a country holds in its foreign exchange reserve. These can be used for international payments and to support a country’s own national currency. Developing countries that export tend to hold more foreign currencies than developed currencies. So which currencies top the list? We put together an easy-to-read visualization to find out more about the world’s top reserve currencies in 2019.

  • The U.S. Dollar makes up 61% of all central bank foreign reserves, making it the most popular and powerful currency in the world.
  • The total value of all currencies held in foreign exchange reserves is equal to nearly $11 trillion.
  • The U.S. Dollar also dominates the forex trading market and is involved in about 90% of all forex trading.
  • The Euro and U.S. Dollar make up over 80% of the world’s currency reserves.
  • Despite being a large part of global trade, the Chinese Renminbi makes up less than 2% of global currency reserves.

To find the top reserve currencies in the world, we pulled the latest data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This data is from the first quarter of 2019. This data accounts for the currency composition of all official foreign exchange reserves. Using this data, we created a helpful chart which can be used to easily identify the most powerful reserve currencies in the world as of 2019. Keep in mind that this data does not reflect unallocated reserves.

The World’s Top Reserve Currencies in 2019

1. U.S. Dollar: $6.74 trillion (61.82%)
2. Euro: $2.21 trillion (20.24%)
3. Japanese Yen: $572 billion (5.25%)
4. Pound Sterling: $495 billion (4.54%)
5. Chinese Renminbi: $213 billion (1.95%)

Reserve currencies play an incredibly important role in the world economy. Not only do these currencies affect the international economy, but they play an important role in the value of each country’s national currency.  As of 2019, the U.S. Dollar, Euro, and Japanese Yen are the most prominent currencies in the world with the U.S. Dollar leading the pack by a fair margin. Currently, around $580 billion U.S. Dollars are used internationally, 90% of forex trading involves U.S. bills, and about 40% of the globe’s debt is issued in this currency.  While some countries have called for the establishment of a singular global currency for stability purposes, there doesn’t seem to be any imminent plans to do so.

Reserve currencies run the world’s economy. By taking a look at our visualization, we can see which currencies are the most abundant and have the most influence on the global economy. Do you expect the U.S. Dollar to retain its dominance in the future? Is a global currency a good idea? Let us know in the comments.

Data: Table 1.1