Most of the nations’ official gold reserves are stored at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a private company.
How did this happen? Because the FED got control of it after World War II and has decided that it is the safe custodian. Other central banks could demand delivery — and should — but they don’t.
The FED axcts as a clearing agent. It moves bars from pile to pile, when central bank reserves change. But that can be done with a fraction of central banks’ gold reserves — a few bars. The bulk of their gold could be sent home, safe.
Safe from what? Oh, I don’t know. Something. You never know when some thief might break in. Didn’t you see Die Hard III?
A handful of Swiss politicians are recommending this transfer back home. Good for them. But somehow, it never happens.
A committee of German politicians are considering this, too.
In Germany a Parliamentary Budget Committee is set to investigate how the country’s gold reserves are managed. At present the gold reserves represent 42% of money held in reserves. The investigation has come about as a result of the German Federal Audit Office’s criticism of Bundesbank’s management of the country’s 3,396.3 tonnes of the yellow metal. The Audit Office is said to have buckled to the pressure of German citizens and politicians interested to know where their gold is.
It is believed 60% – 70% of the country’s gold reserves are kept at 33 Liberty Street, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The official line is; it is kept here to facilitate trade and payments. German newspaper, Bild, report that Germany’s gold reserves in the US have not been audited by the Bundesbank since 2007 – a clear breach of the law. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, is reported to have said that the gold bar list is kept secret and any demands on the New York Federal Reserve bank would ‘endanger the trust between alliance bank and the Fed.’
The last major demand to send back the gold was from Charles de Gaulle. He was acting on the advice of Jacques Rueff, a pro-gold economist, one of the few in Europe at the time. That was in the mid-1960s.
Other reasons for the growing concerns for Germany’s gold are due to the fact that they are effectively backing the Euro. Should the ECB and Euro collapse, the gold, held by the US, could easily transfer into US ownership as collateral for the previously agreed dollar swap arrangements with the ECB. The World Gold Council has long cited the euro area sovereign debt crisis as the reason for the net gold buying activities by Central Banks, but this may not be much use if your gold isn’t in your own vault.