The special drawing right (SDR), issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has the potential to strengthen dramatically the international monetary system. Established in 1969 and allocated twice during its first decade, the SDR was in the institutional closet from 1980 until 2009, when $250 billion in SDRs was allocated to members of the IMF to help address the global financial crisis. In 2021 another $650 billion in SDRs was allocated to help address the coronavirus pandemic. The SDR has proved itself as a crisis instrument. This paper addresses critically the arguments against SDR allocations. It proposes regular annual SDR allocations, along with measures to make the SDR more attractive to critics and measures to build out the SDR system in support of the international monetary system. The paper includes an appendix on the history of the SDR. A second appendix analyzes SDR use following the 2009 and 2021 allocations and finds that contrary to the popular myth, many countries other than low-income members of the IMF benefited directly in multiple ways from those allocations.
The data underlying this analysis can be downloaded here [zip].