Economy

The Mystery of China’s Gold Stash May Soon Be Solved

Reposted from: Bloomberg Business | by   

gold_barsChina’s push to challenge U.S. dominance in global trade and finance may involve gold — a lot of gold.

While the metal is no longer used to back paper money, it remains a big chunk of central bank reserves in the U.S. and Europe. China became the world’s second-largest economy in 2010 and has stepped up efforts to make the yuan a viable competitor to the dollar. That’s led to speculation the government has stockpiled gold as part of a plan to diversify $3.7 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves.

The People’s Bank of China may have tripled holdings of bullion since it last updated them in April 2009, to 3,510 metric tons, says Bloomberg Intelligence, based on trade data, domestic output and China Gold Association figures. A stockpile that big would be second only to the 8,133.5 tons in the U.S.

“If you want to set yourself up as a reserve currency, you may want to have assets on your balance sheet other than other fiat currencies,” Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities, said by phone from Toronto. Gold is “certainly viewed as a viable store of value for an up-and-coming global power,” he said.

China may be preparing to update its disclosed holdings because policy makers are pressing to add the yuan to the International Monetary Fund’s currency basket, known as the Special Drawing Right, which includes the dollar, euro, yen and British pound. The tally may come before the IMF’s meetings on the SDR next month or in October, Nomura Holdings Inc. said in an April 8 report.

Monetary Role

Gold played a central role in the international monetary system until the collapse of the Bretton Woods framework of fixed exchange rates in 1973, according to the IMF. While the role of bullion has diminished since then, the fund still holds 2,814 tons and most central banks have some on their balance sheets. Russia more than tripled its holdings since 2005.

China is the world’s largest gold producer and ranked behind only India among top consumers last year, but the amount of metal its central bank last reported holding in 2009 accounts for just 1 percent of foreign-exchange reserves, which have surged more than fivefold in a decade and are the biggest in the world. Most of that is in dollars.

The IMF estimates the dollar makes up 63 percent of world central bank holdings, while the No. 2 currency, the euro, accounts for 22 percent. Data from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication show the U.S. currency was used for 43 percent of global payments in February.

Approved Programs

While China is promoting the yuan internationally, Swift data show the currency was used for only 1.8 percent of international payments in February. Private investors — both Chinese and non-Chinese — can move their money in and out of the country only through approved programs and in limited amounts, and changes in the currency’s value are only permitted in limited ranges.

Adding gold and other assets would ease China’s reliance on the dollar, said Nathan Chow, a Hong Kong-based economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd.

It may bolster the view China has “a currency that’s well backed by a range of different assets,” said Steven Dooley, a Melbourne-based currency strategist at Western Union Business Solutions for Asia-Pacific. “The most-liquid currencies tend to have a wide range of foreign-exchange reserves.”

Market Mystery

With China disclosing so little about its hoard, finding out how much the central bank has in its vaults is of increasing interest to traders. Confirmation of bigger holdings would signal the importance of the metal as a reserve asset and boost market sentiment, TD Securities’ Melek said. At a time when prices are languishing, the buying could give support, said Suki Cooper, director of commodities at Barclays Plc in New York.

Bullion climbed from $882.05 an ounce at the end of 2008 to a record $1,921.17 in 2011 as investors sought safety from currency depreciation and the threat of inflation. Prices plunged 28 percent in 2013 as rallying stocks and a rebounding economy eroded the appeal of the metal, which traded at $1,198.82 on Tuesday.

China may not have expanded holdings by much. The dollar has strengthened since the middle of last year on expectations the Federal Reserve will boost interest rates, making the U.S. currency more attractive than bullion, which generally offers returns only through price gains.

In a rare comment on gold, Yi Gang, the central bank’s deputy governor, said in March 2013 that the country could only invest as much as 2 percent of its foreign-exchange holdings in gold because the market was too small. The press office of the People’s Bank of China in Beijing didn’t respond to a fax seeking comment sent on April 14.

More Scope

“I wouldn’t expect a huge jump in gold holdings,” said Andy Ji, a currency strategist and China economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Singapore.

Ashish Bhatia, the World Gold Council’s director, central banks and public policy, in New York, said there’s a lot of room for China to expand. It’s ideal for central banks to have 4 percent to 10 percent of assets in gold, he said. The PBOC may already hold at least 3,000 tons, said Warren Hogan, chief economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Sydney.

“Gold has always been, through the history of China, a way to project power,” Kenneth Hoffman, a metals and mining analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in an interview on April 9. “They are thinking about how to make the yuan more international, and so this is a possible reason why they are buying so much gold.”

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Russia and China ‘Furiously’ Buying Up Gold As “a Global Currency Crisis – Albeit Unstated – is Underway”

From: SHTFplan.com | by Mac Slavo, January 20th, 2015

yen_goldenA larger global currency shift is underway… And it may be happening much more quickly than anyone has realized.

Things are definitely in motion. Call it a game of musical chairs, or an exercise in rearranging chairs on the Titanic, or just that a tilting balance of power. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking this is all routine.

As Michael Snyder just reported:

The absolutely stunning decision by the Swiss National Bank to decouple from the euro has triggered billions of dollars worth of losses all over the globe. 

[…]

And these are just the losses that we know about so far.  It will be many months before the full scope of the financial devastation caused by the Swiss National Bank is fully revealed.  But of course the same thing could be said about the crash in the price of oil that we have witnessed in recent weeks.  These two “black swan events” have set financial dominoes in motion all over the globe.  At this point we can only guess how bad the financial devastation will ultimately be.

The key to understanding how the hammer will fall may lie in: gold.

In the material world that governs politics and economics, there has always been one golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.

Put China at the top of the next generation of rule makers, then.

China has been quietly stockpiling gold for years now. In fact, it is stockpiling so much gold that many have speculated that it may be building a gold-backed yuan currency that would make the Dollar pale in comparison on the global market.

Bottom line: no one knows just exactly how much gold China has amassed:

Buying surreptitiously allows Beijing to buy bullion at bargain prices; if the world knew how much gold China was really amassing, a run on gold the likes of which the globe has never seen would likely ensue. “We believe China is controlling the gold price because it is buying in such a way so as not to push prices up.” That’s the opinion of respected precious-metals analyst Julian Phillips of The Gold Forecaster, along with a host of other informed sources. (source)

It is widely believed that China has accumulated larger – possibly much larger – reserves since. (source)

Lots of other countries are rapidly buying up gold, too, including – Serbia, Greece, Ecuador, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

But reportedly no one is buying gold at a faster pace than Russia.

Back in August it was reported that:

Russia’s increase is the most dramatic, according to the recent report from the IMF. The Russian central bank has almost doubled its gold holdings within the last 5 years to 1,094.8 tonnes in June of this year. China’s Central Bank followed with an increase of 75% from its holdings in 2009.

Bloomberg reported in November:

The country has tripled its gold reserves since 2005 and is holding the most since at least 1993, IMF data show.

There is little doubt that gold plays a major factor in Russia’s posturing during a global showdown that involves proxy war and military tensions in the Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and other parts of the globe.

Moscow’s purchase of bullion and the assault on the bank can be seen as tactics of a single strategy designed to break the monopoly of the dollar. Gold is Russia’s hedge against that hegemony; it can’t be hacked.

More than that, Putin has been positioning his motherland to team up with China to solidify the emerging BRICS system which aims to thwart decades of Anglo financial dominance with a un-dollar currency system that will also include a development bank.

Russia’s response has been to buy gold and turn east, cementing deals with China and, it would seem, firing the opening salvos in a cyber currency war with the U.S. (source)

Warnings have sounded about a tipping of the global balance:

Russia is also increasing its gold reserves. China and Russia have been exchanging their U.S. dollar reserves and buying physical gold. Last year we speculated that this dynamic would create a shortage in gold leading to much higher prices. Russia and China now rank in the top ten countries by gold reserves.

With Russia now in what appears to be a currency war with the U.S., they may find a willing partner in China to create an alternative international financial system that does not rely upon or use the dollar. Irrespective of either country’s intentions, their physical gold buying sprees continue unabated. (source)

To that end, Russia has been amassing as much gold as possible, in a bid to outmaneuver its enemies in a silent economic war to hold onto its independence and further project its status.

Nearly every bit of gas and oil that Russia sells to neighbors in Europe and Asia is converted from dollars into gold reserves – and even with the collapsing oil price, that amount could still be staggering.

Many have pointed to the gold and oil trade off as Putin’s grand chess strategy:

Thus, the Western world, built on the hegemony of the petrodollar, is in a catastrophic situation. In which it cannot survive without oil and gas supplies from Russia. And Russia is now ready to sell its oil and gas to the West only in exchange for physical gold! The twist of Putin’s game is that the mechanism for the sale of Russian energy to the West only for gold now works regardless of whether the West agrees to pay for Russian oil and gas with its artificially cheap gold, or not.

If it ever comes to throwing down the gold and putting everyone’s cards on the table – ounce for ounce, and ton for ton, China and Russia will be major contenders in the global system, worthy of the kind of respect that equates both sovereignty and diplomatic power.

Keep in mind that China is also the world’s leading gold miner, producing more than 420 metric tons in 2013 numbers, with Russia ranked behind the U.S. as the fourth largest with 220 tons produced each year.

BRIC by BRIC a new system is being erected.

China has quietly declared war on the U.S. worthless dollar but can you blame them? They already have in place Chinese Yuan Swap facilities, which started the non U.S. dollar trade practice years ago. In 2012 China completed trade agreements with most nations they trade with called BRICS. They also have a BRIC Development Fund with a reported $200 billion already funding infrastructure needs and to deal with their toxic U.S. T Bonds. They will be busy replacing these bonds with gold and the chartered bank (Bank of China, Peoples Bank of China) will compete with the IMF and World Bank. (source)

The strings that come with IMF and World Bank loans give the U.S. and Europe leverage over developing countries, and thus, control. With a competing development bank, China and Russia will literally be building the infrastructure for growing global control.

Germany Has Already ‘Called’ – The World Second Largest Holder of Gold Has Demanded Repatriation of Its American Holdings

The elephant in the room of this entire affair is, of course, the United States. Ostensibly, they are far and away the world’s largest holder of gold, officially holding more than 8,000 tons of gold, and further housing thousands of tons of gold for various allies – especially in Europe.

However, very serious speculation has arisen about the veracity of U.S. claims to gold possession. No audit has taken place of Fort Knox, where the gold is held, since the Eisenhower administration, and many believe that significant portions have been lent or sold on the market to meet other obligations. Conventional wisdom, touted by such official mouthpieces as CBS, asserts that despite lacking confirmation of this gold through an audit, the question of who holds the gold just doesn’t matter anymore:

Fort Knox began losing its luster when the United States went off the gold standard in 1971. Before that, gold bars packed into a secure vault gave people faith in the country’s currency. Today, however, Fort Knox’s gold is now an asset on the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, not a key part of our monetary system.

With decades of the U.S. dominating world finance through the petrodollar, no one was in a position to demand answers to this plaguing question, including the European nations with substantial deposits there.

However, things have changed since the 2008 financial crisis. The petrodollar is fading, and with it, American hegemony. Numerous European countries are now demanding, politely or not, to repatriate their gold.

For Germany, it has become an important question economically as well as politically. Nominally, it is the world’s second wealthiest in gold reserves, with more than 3,300 tons. However, the vast majority of its holdings have been kept in New York and London, due to post-World War II spheres of influence in Europe. With worries about the future of global economics, and a keen eye on the demise of the dollar, Germany has become decisive about keeping its gold closer to home.

Despite a 2012 decision in Germany to repatriate more than 600 tons of gold being held by the New York Federal Reserve, only 5 tons had actually been transferred across the Atlantic at the start of 2014, with the Bundesbank reassuring the German people that all is well, despite delays in the process.

Was their gold actually there, or have the delays been due to the need to buy back physical gold to meet demands on their ‘call’?

While this remains officially unclear, a fresh report yesterday claimed that Germany’s gold repatriation was still underway, and supposedly ‘on schedule’:

“The Bundesbank successfully continued and further stepped up its transfers of gold,” the central bank said in a statement.

“In 2014, 120 tonnes of gold were transferred to Frankfurt from storage locations abroad: 35 tonnes from Paris and 85 tonnes from New York.”

According to the German central bank’s own data, 1,447 tonnes are stored at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, 438 tonnes at the Bank of England in London and 307 tonnes at the Banque de France in Paris.

Under the Bundesbank’s new gold storage plan in 2013, it decided to bring back 674 tonnes from abroad by 2020 and store half of its gold in its own vaults. 

The Dutch were apparently more successful in quickly repatriating some 122 tons of gold from the New York Fed back in November:

As the debate regarding whether or not Switzerland should keep the bulk of its gold reserves at home on Swiss soil reaches it’s climax – the referendum takes place on Sunday – it is telling that the Dutch announced on Friday that they have just secretly repatriated 122 tonnes of their sovereign gold reserves from New York back to Amsterdam.

The Dutch Central Bank went so far as to state that the action was designed to install public confidence in the ability of the central bank to manage crises. The prospect of further shipments from the U.S. remains open as they are keeping the logistical details secret.

Meanwhile, during this silent drama, the Ukraine has been rapidly emptied out of its gold reserves.

Following the coup in Ukraine, the nation’s gold reserves mysteriously plummeted to “near zero”, with reserves depleting from from about $1.8 billion in gold reserves to “near zero,” raising speculation that it was transferred to the U.S. Meanwhile, some $874 million in gold was officially sold in October 2014 to service its debts. Did the Federal Reserve steal Ukraine’s gold to meet calls on its lacking gold reserves?

And Now the Swiss…

The recent shock announcement that the Swiss are decoupling from the Euro is the latest domino to fall, and could set off the long-feared chain reaction.

Many are asking if it signals the end of the Euro as a currency… and if so, what else after that?

The Swiss had vowed to not allow the franc to rise beyond 1.20 francs per euro. With the removal of that cap, the franc soared as much as 30% against the euro on Thursday, an unheard-of move in the currency markets.

It tells the world loudly that a global currency crisis – albeit unstated – is underway … that Western economies and Western sovereign debt is so out of whack that the only ammo left in the arsenal is currency.

Currencies are now being sacrificed in an effort to save economies. And the only winner in that environment is gold. (source)

If possession is said to be 9/10ths of the law, and he who has the gold makes the rules, what does that tell you about fiat currencies, digital currencies and the balance of global power?

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