The World Wants Its Gold Back from the US
We’re all familiar with the so-called ‘run on the bank’. It usually begins quietly with just a few depositors getting nervous about the solvency of the bank.
They line up to get their cash out before the bank closes its doors. Soon the word spreads and the line gets longer. The bank projects an air of confidence and gives cash to depositors who request it as long as they can, but pretty soon the cash runs out.
The classic image of this is the scene from the Christmas-season film It’s a Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart. We’ve all seen it. Now something similar is happening at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
What’s different is that the run on the bank involves gold, not cash. The New York Fed will never run out of cash because they can print all they need. But they could run out of gold.
Until recently, the New York Fed had about 6,000 tons of gold stored in its vaults on Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan. Contrary to popular belief, the gold stored there does not belong to the United States (the US gold is stored in Fort Knox and West Point).
The Fed gold belongs to countries around the world and the International Monetary Fund.
Beginning a few years ago, central banks demanded the return of their gold to their home countries. Germany was the most prominent example, but there were others, including smaller holders such as Azerbaijan.
The process is difficult because the Fed bullion consists of old bars, some stacked up since the 1920s, that don’t meet today’s standard for purity and size. This doesn’t mean the gold is bad, just that the bars have to be melted down and re-refined to meet the new standards.
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Turkey questions the US dollar loan system
Turkey, one of the largest holders, which has 220 tons of gold stores in the US, now wants to reclaim its reserves.
And Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has recently suggested that international loans should be made in gold instead of US dollars.
Here’s what he told the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul on 16 April:
‘I made a suggestion at a G-20 meeting. I asked: Why do we make all loans in dollars? Let’s use another currency. I suggest that the loans should be made based on gold…
‘With the dollar the world is always under exchange rate pressure. We should save states and nations from this exchange rate pressure. Gold has never been a tool of oppression throughout history.’
Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to amass gold.
The gold stash in New York is dwindling and global behaviour is coming to resemble a run on the gold bank.
Sceptics claim not all of the gold is there. My own view is that the New York Federal Reserve does have the gold, although a lot of it may be leased out to support gold price manipulation by the big banks and China.
Either way, we may soon find out if the New York Fed has to shut its gold doors just like any other insolvent bank.
And we may also find out how much patience the world has left with the US dollar.
All the best,
For The Daily Reckoning Australia