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The U.S. Dollar’s Global Roles: Revisiting Where Things Stand

Will developments in technology, geopolitics, and the financial market reduce the dollar’s important roles in the global economy?  This post updates…



Will developments in technology, geopolitics, and the financial market reduce the dollar’s important roles in the global economy?  This post updates prior commentary [herehere, and here], with insights about whether recent developments, such as the pandemic and the sanctions on Russia, might change the roles of the dollar. Our view is that the evidence so far points to the U.S. dollar maintaining its importance internationally.  A companion post reports on the Inaugural Conference on the International Roles of the U.S. Dollar jointly organized by the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Bank of New York and held on June 16-17.

Environmental Trends

Looking back over prior decades, the major developments pertinent for the current international financial architecture and dollar roles include the introduction of the euro in 2000, China’s rising status in the global economy, and post-financial-crisis changes in the U.S. policy and financial environment. Additional drivers of roles also historically include the strength of economic and financial market conditions, as well as institutions, across countries.

Some U.S. financial and regulatory approaches since the global financial crisis (GFC), on balance, supported the international roles of the dollar and the so-called safe-haven status of U.S. Treasuries. Crisis containment efforts included enhancing the Federal Reserve’s lender-of-last-resort role around dollar funding (for example, through central bank swap lines) and shoring up bank resiliency under the Dodd-Frank Act. This type of reinforcement of dollar roles has been strengthened since 2020, with dollar funding strains in stress periods reduced by access to the Fed’s swap lines. In addition, the new FIMA (Foreign and International Monetary Authority) Repo Accounts give those official institutions holding U.S. Treasuries the possibility to get dollar liquidity through liquifying, rather than liquidating, these Treasury assets. Goldberg and Ravazzolo (2021) show that the facility supported stabilization and normalization of financial market conditions, giving foreign officials, and private-market participants, confidence to hold U.S. dollar-denominated assets. 

Reduced emphasis on unilateralism and protectionism in recent years has also worked in favor of the U.S. dollar’s international roles. While the financial sanctions imposed on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine are sometimes brought up in this context, these sanctions are imposed broadly, inclusive of major currency countries. In advance of the invasion, Russia had already been reducing its reliance on the U.S. dollar in its holdings of official foreign exchange reserves. Of course, it is possible that the desire to avoid this type of sanctions environment could lead to de-dollarization for some other countries, in which case such incremental movements could lead to larger cumulative reductions and fragmentation in the dollar’s international roles.

Over the past several years, another key trend has been the prevalence and growth in the use of digital currencies such as central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and cryptocurrencies—a development that raises questions about whether such alternatives could eventually supplant a significant portion of the dollar’s international role in cross-border payments and investment and trade transactions. The most relevant developments are in the payments infrastructure space, including around stablecoins. Noteworthy here is the preponderance of efforts to anchor stablecoins against the U.S. dollar: virtually all stablecoins (on a value weighted basis) aim to maintain a “peg” with the dollar. This increased interest in using dollars could be reinforcing, not diminishing, the status of the dollar as an international currency. 

CBDCs adopted and studied so far have tended to be focused on domestic retail sectors and therefore would not impinge on the U.S. dollar’s role as an international medium of exchange. As stores of value, CBDCs don’t necessarily increase the attractiveness of their usage vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar. As most are backed by the issuing country’s local currency, they may face the same constraints that prevent the local currency from gaining wider global acceptance and usage, such as credit and liquidity risks and legal protections, as well as openness of the capital account and investment opportunities. Some CBDCs may strengthen the international role of the dollar, notably if they are backed by U.S. dollars, for example, in small open economies.


The dollar has many roles globally. First, the dollar is a reserve currency meaning that dollar assets are held by official institutions like central banks and governments, and it is sometimes the anchor currency against which local exchange rates are stabilized.  

Taking a longer-term perspective, the share of U.S. dollars in global foreign exchange (FX) reserves has slowly but steadily declined over the past two decades, though it remains by far the dominant currency in central bank foreign reserve portfolios (see chart below). Growth in the use of traditional reserve currencies, such as the euro, yen, and pound sterling, has been flat with slight increases in other alternative currencies owing to the search for yield. The Chinese yuan continues to make gradual gains, though still only represents 3 percent of global FX reserves, up from 1 percent in 2017.

The Dollar Share of Global Reserves Has Fallen, but Remains High

Source: International Monetary Fund COFER data.
Notes: The FX-adjusted series based to 1999 exchange rates.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar continues to play a disproportionately large role among FX and payment transactions, global private and official holdings of foreign-denominated assets, and cross-border capital and trade flows. The prominence of the U.S. dollar is typically much greater than that of the second closest rival (euro), with no evidence of this pattern shifting. 

In private transactions, although the United States only makes up a quarter of global GDP and just over 16 percent of world exports and imports, the U.S. dollar continues to be represented at a disproportionately higher rate in financial transactions. Approximately half of all cross-border loans, international debt securities, and trade invoices are denominated in U.S. dollars, while roughly 40 percent of SWIFT messages and 60 percent of global foreign exchange reserves are in dollars.

FX transactions are also heavily dollar-based, with close to 90 percent of all currency trades having the dollar as one leg of the transaction. The U.S. dollar remains by far the most traded currency according to the latest Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Triennial Survey in 2019, and it has steadily increased its share of representation on one side of an FX trade to almost 90 percent. Broken down by transaction type involving the dollar, roughly 50 percent of daily transactions are FX swaps, 30 percent are FX spot, and the remaining 20 percent are composed of forwards, options, and cross-currency swaps. Actively traded commodity contracts, such as oil futures, remain mostly denominated in U.S. dollars.

With respect to global sovereign debt, the United States has the largest investable market, thus providing a deep pool of liquidity for dollar-denominated investments. Foreign ownership of U.S. government debt is currently at around 25 percent, a notable decline from 37 percent in 2013, as increased U.S. Treasury issuance outpaced foreign investor demand (see chart below). While the total quantity of U.S. government debt outstanding is notably higher than any other sovereign debt market, the share held by foreigners is largely in line with those of other countries. When excluding Fed holdings, foreign ownership is at about 32 percent, a decline from 42 percent in 2013. Regarding foreign ownership of U.S. securities, while holdings of U.S. Treasuries, mortgage-backed securities, and corporate bonds have remained relatively stable, foreign holdings of U.S. equities have increased by as much as 83 percent in the past three years.

Foreigners Hold Substantial U.S. Private and Public Assets

Sources: IMF Sovereign Debt Investor Base (left panel); U.S. Treasury TIC data (right panel).

The dollar also garners more interest from global banks than any other currency. It is the most commonly held denomination among external bank assets, which include loans to nonresidents and foreign-currency denominated securities, with a balance of around $16.7 trillion in the most recent data and up from a post-global-financial-crisis low of around $9 trillion. Global banks’ U.S. dollar-denominated liabilities have been steadily increasing since the GFC and are the highest among major international currencies, with a balance of over $15 trillion in 2021. The only other currency with a notable amount is the euro, at over $9 trillion of foreign-denominated bank liabilities. The share of U.S.-dollar-denominated external claims funded by FX swaps and forward instruments has significantly increased since the GFC to almost $1.4 trillion in 2021, surpassing that of euro-denominated claims in late 2016. In addition, approximately two-thirds of all dollars in circulation are also held abroad, illustrating its continued global appeal as a safe asset.

Concluding Remarks

The dollar’s international role, whether for trade, investment, or use as a global reserve currency, remains quite strong with nothing on the horizon likely to rival it. Some official-use indicators do point to some erosion, notably in foreign currency reserve holdings, and the use of economic sanctions has caused some countries to rethink their reliance on the U.S. dollar. Moreover, rising U.S. public debt levels and inflation could become more concerning to foreign investors. However, no currency replicates the characteristics of the U.S. dollar as a store of value, unit of account, and medium of exchange. Moreover, U.S. assets are viewed to be safe and liquid and have withstood the effects of global shocks. The use of key policy tools, such as the Fed’s dollar liquidity swap lines and FIMA repo, help to ­support the U.S. dollar’s international roles.

Photo: portrait of Linda Goldberg

Linda S. Goldberg is a financial research advisor on Financial Intermediation Policy Research in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group. 

Robert Lerman is a policy and market monitoring advisor in the Bank’s Markets Group.

Dan Reichgott is a capital markets trading principal in the Bank’s Markets Group.

How to cite this post:
Linda S. Goldberg, Robert Lerman, and Dan Reichgott, “The U.S. Dollar’s Global Roles: Revisiting Where Things Stand,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics, July 5, 2022,

The views expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author(s).

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Coronavirus dashboard for October 5: an autumn lull as COVID-19 evolves towards seasonal endemicity

  – by New Deal democratBack in August I highlighted some epidemiological work by Trevor Bedford about what endemic COVID is likely to look like, based…




 - by New Deal democrat

Back in August I highlighted some epidemiological work by Trevor Bedford about what endemic COVID is likely to look like, based on the rate of mutations and the period of time that previous infection makes a recovered person resistant to re-infection. Here’s his graph:

He indicated that it “illustrate[s] a scenario where we end up in a regime of year-round variant-driven circulation with more circulation in the winter than summer, but not flu-like winter seasons and summer troughs.”

In other words, we could expect higher caseloads during regular seasonal waves, but unlike influenza, the virus would never entirely recede into the background during the “off” seasons.

That is what we are seeing so far this autumn.

Confirmed cases have continued to decline, presently just under 45,000/day, a little under 1/3rd of their recent summer peak in mid-June. Deaths have been hovering between 400 and 450/day, about in the middle of their 350-550 range since the beginning of this past spring:

The longer-term graph of each since the beginning of the pandemic shows that, at their present level cases are at their lowest point since summer 2020, with the exception of a brief period during September 2020, the May-July lull in 2021, and the springtime lull this year. Deaths since spring remain lower than at any point except the May-July lull of 2021:

Because so many cases are asymptomatic, or people confirm their cases via home testing but do not get confirmation by “official” tests, we know that the confirmed cases indicated above are lower than the “real” number. For that, here is the long-term look from Biobot, which measures COVID concentrations in wastewater:

The likelihood is that there are about 200,000 “actual” new cases each day at present. But even so, this level is below any time since Delta first hit in summer 2021, with the exception of last autumn and this spring’s lulls.

Hospitalizations show a similar pattern. They are currently down 50% since their summer peak, at about 25,000/day:

This is also below any point in the pandemic except for briefly during September 2020, the May-July 2021 low, and this past spring’s lull.

The CDC’s most recent update of variants shows that BA.5 is still dominant, causing about 81% of cases, while more recent offshoots of BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5 are causing the rest. BA’s share is down from 89% in late August:

But this does not mean that the other variants are surging, because cases have declined from roughly 90,000 to 45,000 during that time. Here’s how the math works out:

89% of 90k=80k (remaining variants cause 10k cases)
81% of 45k=36k (remaining variants cause 9k cases)

The batch of new variants have been dubbed the “Pentagon” by epidmiologist JP Weiland, and have caused a sharp increase in cases in several countries in Europe and elsewhere. Here’s what she thinks that means for the US:

But even she is not sure that any wave generated by the new variants will exceed summer’s BA.5 peak, let alone approach last winter’s horrible wave:

In summary, we have having an autumn lull as predicted by the seasonal model. There will probably be a winter wave, but the size of that wave is completely unknown, primarily due to the fact that probably 90%+ of the population has been vaccinated and/or previously infected, giving rise to at least some level of resistance - a disease on its way to seasonal endemicity.

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Gonorrhea became more drug resistant while attention was on COVID-19 – a molecular biologist explains the sexually transmitted superbug

The US currently has only one antibiotic available to treat gonorrhea – and it’s becoming less effective.




The _Neisseria gonorrhoeae_ bacterium causes gonorrhea by infecting mucous membranes. Design Cells/iStock Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

COVID-19 has rightfully dominated infectious disease news since 2020. However, that doesn’t mean other infectious diseases took a break. In fact, U.S. rates of infection by gonorrhea have risen during the pandemic.

Unlike COVID-19, which is a new virus, gonorrhea is an ancient disease. The first known reports of gonorrhea date from China in 2600 BC, and the disease has plagued humans ever since. Gonorrhea has long been one of the most commonly reported bacterial infections in the U.S.. It is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which can infect mucous membranes in the genitals, rectum, throat and eyes.

Gonorrhea is typically transmitted by sexual contact. It is sometimes referred to as “the clap.”

Prior to the pandemic, there were around 1.6 million new gonorrhea infections each year. Over 50% of those cases involved strains of gonorrhea that had become unresponsive to treatment with at least one antibiotic.

In 2020, gonorrhea infections initially went down 30%, most likely due to pandemic lockdowns and social distancing. However, by the end of 2020 – the last year for which data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available – reported infections were up 10% from 2019.

It is unclear why infections went up even though some social distancing measures were still in place. But the CDC notes that reduced access to health care may have led to longer infections and more opportunity to spread the disease, and sexual activity may have increased when initial shelter-in-place orders were lifted.

As a molecular biologist, I have been studying bacteria and working to develop new antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections for 20 years. Over that time, I’ve seen the problem of antibiotic resistance take on new urgency.

Gonorrhea, in particular, is a major public health concern, but there are concrete steps that people can take to prevent it from getting worse, and new antibiotics and vaccines may improve care in the future.

How to recognize gonorrhea

Around half of gonorrhea infections are asymptomatic and can only be detected through screening. Infected people without symptoms can unknowingly spread gonorrhea to others.

Typical early signs of symptomatic gonorrhea include a painful or burning sensation when peeing, vaginal or penal discharge, or anal itching, bleeding or discharge. Left untreated, gonorrhea can cause blindness and infertility. Antibiotic treatment can cure most cases of gonorrhea as long as the infection is susceptible to at least one antibiotic.

There is currently only one recommended treatment for gonorrhea in the U.S. – an antibiotic called ceftriaxone – because the bacteria have become resistant to other antibiotics that were formerly effective against it. Seven different families of antibiotics have been used to treat gonorrhea in the past, but many strains are now resistant to one or more of these drugs.

The CDC tracks the emergence and spread of drug-resistant gonorrhea strains.

Why gonorrhea is on the rise

A few factors have contributed to the increase in infections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early in the pandemic, most U.S. labs capable of testing for gonorrhea switched to testing for COVID-19. These labs have also been contending with the same shortages of staff and supplies that affect medical facilities across the country.

Many people have avoided clinics and hospitals during the pandemic, which has decreased opportunities to identify and treat gonorrhea infections before they spread. In fact, because of decreased screening over the past two and a half years, health care experts don’t know exactly how much antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea has spread.

Also, early in the pandemic, many doctors prescribed antibiotics to COVID-19 patients even though antibiotics do not work on viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Improper use of antibiotics can contribute to greater drug resistance, so it is reasonable to suspect that this has happened with gonorrhea.

Overuse of antibiotics

Even prior to the pandemic, resistance to antibiotic treatment for bacterial infections was a growing problem. In the U.S., antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea infections increased by over 70% from 2017-2019.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a specialist at picking up new genes from other pathogens and from “commensal,” or helpful, bacteria. These helpful bacteria can also become antibiotic-resistant, providing more opportunities for the gonorrhea bacterium to acquire resistant genes.

Strains resistant to ceftriaxone have been observed in other countries, including Japan, Thailand, Australia and the U.K., raising the possibility that some gonorrhea infections may soon be completely untreatable.

Steps toward prevention

Currently, changes in behavior are among the best ways to limit overall gonorrhea infections – particularly safer sexual behavior and condom use.

However, additional efforts are needed to delay or prevent an era of untreatable gonorrhea.

Scientists can create new antibiotics that are effective against resistant strains; however, decreased investment in this research and development over the past 30 years has slowed the introduction of new antibiotics to a trickle. No new drugs to treat gonorrhea have been introduced since 2019, although two are in the final stage of clinical trials.

Vaccination against gonorrhea isn’t possible presently, but it could be in the future. Vaccines effective against the meningitis bacterium, a close relative of gonorrhea, can sometimes also provide protection against gonorrhea. This suggests that a gonorrhea vaccine should be achievable.

The World Health Organization has begun an initiative to reduce gonorrhea worldwide by 90% before 2030. This initiative aims to promote safe sexual practices, increase access to high-quality health care for sexually transmitted diseases and expand testing so that asymptomatic infections can be treated before they spread. The initiative is also advocating for increased research into vaccines and new antibiotics to treat gonorrhea.

Setbacks in fighting drug-resistant gonorrhea during the COVID-19 pandemic make these actions even more urgent.

Kenneth Keiler receives funding from NIH.

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Spread & Containment

Measuring the Ampleness of Reserves

Over the past fifteen years, reserves in the banking system have grown from tens of billions of dollars to several trillion dollars. This extraordinary…



Over the past fifteen years, reserves in the banking system have grown from tens of billions of dollars to several trillion dollars. This extraordinary rise poses a natural question: Are the rates paid in the market for reserves still sensitive to changes in the quantity of reserves when aggregate reserve holdings are so large? In today’s post, we answer this question by estimating the slope of the reserve demand curve from 2010 to 2022, when reserves ranged from $1 trillion to $4 trillion.

What Are Reserves? And Why Do They Matter?

Banks hold accounts at the Federal Reserve where they keep cash balances called “reserves.” Reserves meet banks’ various needs, including making payments to other financial institutions and meeting regulatory requirements. Over the past fifteen years, reserves have grown enormously, from tens of billions of dollars in 2007 to $3 trillion today. The chart below shows the evolution of reserves in the U.S. banking system as a share of banks’ total assets from January 2010 through September 2022. The supply of reserves depends importantly on the actions of the Federal Reserve, which can increase or decrease the quantity of reserves by changing its securities holdings, as it did in response to the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 crisis.

Reserves Have Ranged from 8 to 19 Percent of Bank Assets from 2010 to 2022

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED (“TLAACBW027SBOG”); authors’ calculations.

Why does the quantity of reserves matter? Because the “price” at which banks trade their reserve balances, which in turn depends importantly on the total amount of reserves in the system, is the federal funds rate, which is the interest rate targeted by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in the implementation of monetary policy. In 2022, the FOMC stated that “over time, the Committee intends to maintain securities holdings in amounts needed to implement monetary policy efficiently and effectively in its ample reserves regime.” In this ample reserves regime, the Federal Reserve controls short-term interest rates mainly through the setting of administered rates, rather than by adjusting the supply of reserves each day as it did prior to 2008 (as discussed in this post). In today’s post, we describe a method to measure the sensitivity of interest rates to changes in the quantity of reserves that can serve as a useful indicator of whether the level of reserves is ample.

The Demand for Reserves Informs Us about Rate Sensitivity to Reserve Shocks

To assess whether the level of reserves is ample, one needs to first understand the demand for reserves. Banks borrow and lend in the market for reserves, typically overnight. The reserve demand curve describes the price at which these institutions are willing to trade their balances as a function of aggregate reserves. Its slope measures the price sensitivity to changes in the level of reserves. Importantly, banks earn interest on their reserve balances (IORB), set by the Federal Reserve. Because the IORB rate directly affects the willingness of banks to lend reserves, it is useful to describe the reserve demand curve in terms of the spread between the federal funds rate and the IORB rate. In addition, we control for the overall growth of the U.S. banking sector by specifying reserve demand in terms of the level of reserves relative to commercial banks’ assets.

There is a clear nonlinear downward-sloping relationship between prices and quantities of reserves, consistent with economic theory. The chart below plots the spread between the federal funds rate and the IORB against total reserves as a share of commercial banks’ total assets.  When reserves are very low, the demand curve has a steep negative slope, reflecting the willingness of borrowers to pay high rates because reserves are scarce. At the other extreme, when reserves are very high, the curve becomes flat because banks are awash with reserves and the supply is abundant. Between these two regions, an intermediate regime–that we refer to as “ample”–emerges, where the demand curve exhibits a modest downward slope. The color coding of the chart reflects the shifts in the reserve demand curve over time. In particular, the curve appears to have moved to the right and upward around 2015 and then moved upward after March 2020, at the onset of the COVID pandemic.

Reserve Demand Has Shifted over Time

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED (“TLAACBW027SBOG,” “IOER,” and “IORB”); authors’ calculations.

This chart highlights two of the main challenges in estimating the slope of the reserve demand curve. First, the curve is highly nonlinear, which means that a standard linear estimation approach is not appropriate. Second, various long-lasting changes in the regulation and supervision of banks, in their internal risk-management frameworks, and in the structure of the reserve market itself have resulted in shifts in the reserve demand curve. A third challenge is that the quantity of reserves may be endogenous to banks’ demand for them. Therefore, to properly measure the reserve demand curve, one must disentangle shocks to supply from those to demand. As we explain in detail in a recent paper, our estimation strategy addresses all three of these challenges.

Estimating the Slope of the Reserve Demand Curve

Our approach provides time-varying estimates of the price sensitivity of the demand for reserves that can be used to distinguish between periods in which reserves are relatively scarce, ample, or abundant. The chart below presents our daily estimates of the slope of the demand curve, as measured by the rate sensitivity to changes in reserves. Although we do not have a precise criterion for when reserves are scarce versus ample, during two episodes in our sample, the estimated rate sensitivity is well away from zero. The first episode occurs early in our sample, in 2010, and the second emerges almost ten years later, in mid-2019. In two other periods—during 2013-2017 and from mid-2020 through early September 2022—the estimated slope is very close to zero, indicating an abundance of reserves. The remaining periods are characterized by a modest negative slope of the reserve demand curve, consistent with ample (but short of abundant) reserves. The overall pattern of these estimates is robust to changes in the model specification, such as including spillovers from the repo and Treasury markets or measuring reserves as a share of gross domestic product or bank deposits (instead of as a share of banks’ assets).

Rate Sensitivity Changed over Time, Following the Path of Reserves

Sources: Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED (“TLAACBW027SBOG,” “IOER,” and “IORB”); authors’ calculations.

Interest Rate Spreads Alone Are Not Reliable Indicators of Reserve Scarcity

As we discuss in our paper, the time variation in the estimated price sensitivity in the demand for reserves is based on observations of small movements along the demand curve due to exogenous supply shocks. The location of the curve itself, however, also changes over time. That is, there is not a constant relationship between the level of reserves and the slope of the reserve demand curve.  

In our paper, we find evidence of both horizontal and vertical shifts in the reserve demand curve, with vertical upward shifts being particularly important since 2015. This finding implies that the level of the federal funds-IORB spread may not be a reliable summary statistic for the sensitivity of interest rates to reserve shocks, and that estimates of the price sensitivity in the demand for reserves provide additional useful information.

In summary, we have developed a method to estimate the time-varying interest rate sensitivity of the demand for reserves that accounts for the nonlinear nature of reserve demand and allows for structural shifts over time. A key advantage of our methodology is that it provides a flexible and readily implementable approach that can be used to monitor the market for reserves in real time, allowing one to assess the “ampleness” of the reserve supply as market conditions evolve.

Gara Afonso is the head of Banking Studies in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Gabriele La Spada is a financial research economist in Money and Payments Studies in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.   

John C. Williams is the president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  

How to cite this post:
Gara Afonso, Gabriele La Spada, and John C. Williams, “Measuring the Ampleness of Reserves,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Liberty Street Economics, October 5, 2022,

The views expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the author(s).

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