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First, we need to explain one important concept. The term “countries’ reserves” is thrown around a lot with little explanation. It simply means that governments hold different types of currencies, securities or commodities (i.e. “stuff”) to react to things that are happening in the economy. For example, if your currency looks weak, you sell foreign currency and buy your own. Without “stuff” in reserve, governments and central banks can’t react. Countries are free to hold whatever “stuff” they want in reserve.