Size of central banks according to the IMF

The size of different central banks can be difficult to compare given differences in the services they provide and the areas that they regulate. A recently published IMF paper compares the income statements of a large number of central banks. According to the paper, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) does not stand out in terms of its operating expenses or number of staff. However, there are concerns around the accuracy of these comparisons. For South Africa, the paper’s total operating expenses are lower in rand terms than those from the annual reports of the SARB (both for the bank and the broader SARB group that includes the Mint and Bank Note Company). As a result, this paints a different picture to the one we presented in an earlier post, where we showed that the SARB does not stand out for the number of staff, but it does stand out for the size of its budget.

According to the data from the paper, Canada and Turkiye stand out in terms of their operating expenses, while England and New Zealand stand out among major economies for their number of staff relative to the population. It is worth pointing out that the operational expenditure figures from the IMF for the Bank of Canada much higher for several years than from its annual report, which shows that total expenses rose from 579 million Canadian dollars in 2019 to 712 million in 2022 – suggesting that the IMF figures could be off by a multiple of 10 for several of the years before 2020. Unfortunately, there are also no estimates for large emerging market economies such as China, India or Russia available from the paper, but we have tried to create comparisons in this previous post.

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