We hold reserves, which include gold and investments. At year-end 2019, their combined worth was roughly EUR 39 billion. They serve as the cornerstone of financial stability and trust.
The purpose of our reserves is twofold.
- They underpin trust in the Dutch financial system.
- They support the common European monetary policy and financial stability.
Our investments must meet high demands, in terms of their composition and the type of financial instruments. We closely monitor their credit quality and liquidity. Sustainability is another key criterion. We adhere to the principles of socially responsible investment. This reduces the environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks inherent in our reserves in the long run. It also promotes the transition to a more sustainable economy.
Dutch State receives our investment returns
It is our aim to optimise the risk-return profile of our investments. Where possible, we pay out the returns on our investments to the Dutch State – our sole shareholder, More information about our new capital policy, including our profit distribution and provisioning policy can be found on this Dutch-language page on our website.
We are the world's first central bank to sign the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). These form a set of six investment principles. They help us take action for incorporating ESG considerations into our investment practices. Our Responsible Investment Charter outlines how we do this.
We play a pioneering role in the Eurosystem as regards our socially responsible investment (SRI) policy, and we wish to maintain that role and continue our work in this area.To do just that, we are actively involved in national and international working groups. One of these is the Sustainable Finance Platform and the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS). DNB Governing Board member Frank Elderson chairs this globe-spanning network.
We manage part of our investments, and external managers are responsible for managing another part. We manage:
- euro investments
- US dollar investments
External managers manage:
- corporate bonds
The euro portfolio primarily comprises investment-grade government bonds and semi-government bonds with short-term maturities. The euro portfolio and the ECB's asset purchase programme are managed separately.
US dollar investments
The US dollar portfolio comprises US Treasury bonds and semi-government bonds with short-term maturities. Forward exchange contracts are used to hedge the currency risk in the portfolio. We hold US dollars to meet any need for foreign exchange on the part of the ECB and the IMF. The IMF can ask us to provide US dollars to fund its loans. In order to be able to quickly meet any requests, it is important that the dollar portfolio is sufficiently liquid.
We invest a portion of our euro and US dollar portfolios in socially responsible bonds. These include bonds issued by development banks and “green” bonds issued by supranational institutions and semi-government bodies.
Apart from our own reserves, we also manage part of the ECB’s reserves in Japanese yen. Every three years, the national central banks in the Eurosystem can choose which currency they wish to manage. We chose the Japanese yen, because this would not create any conflicts of interest with the management of our investments and foreign currency reserves.
The equity portfolio provides diversification with regard to fixed-income securities at the desired risk-return ratio. Equity investments are managed by external managers and are globally benchmarked. We periodically select the managers, and we monitor and evaluate their performance.
The investment grade and high-yield portfolios comprise global corporate bonds, and they are managed by external managers. Both portfolios serve to further diversify the total portfolio and have the potential to generate higher returns in the long term, without elevating risk at the total portfolio level. As is the case with equities, we select the fund managers and monitor their performance.
We hold more than 600 tonnes of gold. At year-end 2019, it was worth EUR 26.7 billion. In times of crisis, our physical gold stock functions as an ultimate reserve asset and as an anchor of trust. To ensure the proper geographical spread, our gold reserves are kept in various locations in the world. Part of it is in our own vaults, and the other parts are in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Read more about our gold stock here.
European Reserve Management Services
DNB is one of the national central banks in the Eurosystem which provide services for the management of euro reserves of national central banks outside the euro area, known as Eurosystem Reserve Management Services (ERMS). Read more about the ERMS here.