In the Netherlands we have a financial newspaper that prints on pink paper and is named “Het Financieel Dagblad”. Basically it’s the Dutch equivalent of the Financial Times. A few weeks ago I was interviewed by two of their reporters, Joost van Kuppeveld and Lenneke Arts. Today the interview was published as part of a series of interviews with gold experts, among others, with myself and Aerdt Houben, Director Financial Markets at the Dutch central bank (DNB). Perhaps not surprisingly I disagree with several statements of Houben in his interview, to which I would like to respond in a forthcoming post. For now, you can read my interview below. In case readers didn’t know my real name is Jan Nieuwenhuijs, and Koos Jansen is my Internet alias. Het Financieel Dagblad preferred to disclose my real name.
“The whole world is now in the same boat. Everywhere there are low interest rates and on all continents money is printed. Only the United States has paused printing for the moment.
There are many flaws in fiat money. You can print it without limitations, which is politically too tempting. Fiat money printing was used to save the financial system in 2008, but since then nothing has changed. Banks are not split. In a next crisis it’s going to end badly with paper money. There will be significant inflation.
Gold is a hard currency. It can’t be printed – like fiat money. It is divisible and it does not perish. It retains its purchasing power in the long term. If it’s in the center of the monetary system, it will also be more stable in terms of purchasing power in the short and medium term. That has to do with economic principles; it is a commodity. In that respect I feel safe by keeping a portion of my savings in physical gold. I am protected from economic shocks. If the euro falls gold rises, and so my purchasing power is maintained.
Something has to happen in the international monetary system. It cannot stay centred around the dollar. Since 1971 – when the dollar was detached from gold – the United States has an exorbitant privilege. Most trade in the world is settled in dollars. Therefore, there is a huge demand for dollars in the world, and the US can simply print these dollars.
In the new system gold is going play a role. Look at the developments in Europe. The Netherlands and Germany get their gold back from America. Austria and Belgium are also repatriating. Russia and China buy a lot of gold. The Chinese have too many dollars in foreign exchange reserves and are therefore at the mercy of the whims of US policy. The transition to a new system will be gradual. No one wants a new shock.
With my blog I try to fill the gap between mainstream media, who do not understand gold, and conspiracy theorists. I always try to seek the truth. Because if we get a new financial crisis, we must know the truth. The Dutch central bank shouldn’t state it holds 600 tonnes if it can’t show us the audit reports and gold bar list. That’s why I’m pushing for the audit reports and gold bars list to be publicly released, but those requests find a lot of resistance at my national bank. While you would think they can be fully transparent. What’s there to hide?”
My hunt for the gold bar list of the Dutch official gold reserves started in 2015. On September 26 of that year I visited a conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, called Reinvent Money. One of the speakers was Jacob De Haan from the Dutch central bank (DNB) Economics and Research Division – you can watch his presentation by clicking here.
In his presentation De Haan repeatedly talked about the importance of transparency in central banking. These statements raised my eyebrows, as I submitted a FOIA request at DNB in 2013 to ask for all correspondence between DNB and other central banks in the past 45 years with respect to its monetary gold, which was not honored. From my experience DNB was anything but transparent.
After the presentation I approached De Haan and asked him, if transparency is so important to DNB, why has it never published its gold bar list? An act of transparency that could be accomplished within minutes. De Haan offered me he would look into that. He gave me his email address and we agreed to stay in touch.
The next day I send De Haan an extensive email explicating my request at DNB to publish the gold bar list of the Dutch gold in excel sheet format. I wrote him it wouldn’t take DNB any effort, as I assumed the bar list was readily available.
De Haan never replied to my email, so I called his office in December 2015 to ask what the status was of my request. De Haan’s secretary answered my inquiry was not rejected but still being processed.
Weeks passed but I didn’t get any reply from De Haan.
On February 24, 2016, I decided to call DNB’s press department to ask about my inquiry. DNB’s spokesman, Martijn Pols, told me over the phone the subject was still being discussed internally, he even confirmed De Haan was involved in the decision making. DNB was considering releasing the document while carefully weighing al pros and cons, he said.
In the conversation Pols stated DNB was aware the German central bank (the Deutsche Bundesbank) released a bar list in October 2015 and there was a wish in Amsterdam to mutually harmonize this policy. I added that if DNB would go ahead with the publication their action would only be credible if the Dutch bar list would be complete (disclosing refinery brands, refinery bar numbers and year of manufacturing), in contrast to the incomplete list the Germans had published. Pols was aware of the format the Germans had chosen and took note of my comment. An ensuing question from my side what was holding back DNB in releasing the list could not be clearly answered.
Months passed without any news from DNB. On August 8, 2016 I decided to call Pols again for a status update. He said he would reply over email. A few days later I received an email from DNB Head of Commutations J.W. Stal.
…. We can share the following information with respect to our gold reserves.
DNB is transparent about the amount (weight) and the value of our gold assets. This information can be found in our annual reports. Thereby, several media have visited the gold vault and video recordings have also been made. However, we do not intend to publish a gold bar list. This serves no additional monetary purpose to our aforementioned transparency policy, however it would incur administrative costs.
If you have any further question please contacts us.
Of course, in this day and age any gold bar list from a central banks should be readily available in excel sheet format, and releasing a sheet would not incur any administrative costs.
If the sole reason not to publish the gold bar list is that such an action would incur administrative costs I must conclude DNB doesn’t have the list readily available. Or is my conclusion erroneous? Does DNB have a complete gold bar list readily available or not?
If not, this is worrying because the gold bar list forms one of the most important checks on the existence of the Dutch official gold reserves, which provide essential stability to our economy.
In response to your email of August 11, 2016, to De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), we can inform you as follows on our gold reserves and the related gold bar list. DNB has internal gold bar lists, however the conversion of internal lists to documents for publication would create too many administrative burdens.
We maintain our previous email, in which we stated publishing a gold bar list serves no monetary purpose other than transparency. And as previously noted, there are other ways for DNB to transparently communicate about our gold stocks.
We trust to have informed you sufficiently.
If DNB has its gold bar list properly (digitally) archived there should be no administrative cost whatsoever for publication. The argument presented by Stal makes absolutely no sense to me. If one owns over 600 tonnes of gold, why not have the physical assets accurately inventoried?
What could possibly be the problem to release the bar list of the Dutch gold located in Amsterdam, New York, Ottawa and London?
I would like to remind you that DNB is the only Western central bank that in recent years has successfully repatriated a significant amount of gold (122.5 tonnes) from the Federal Reserve Bank Of New York through a covertly executed operation. This underlines DNB is fully aware of the importance of its gold reserves in our current fragile financial climate. I think DNB does have the bar list readily available, but it chooses not to publish it for political reasons – think, tensions between its custodians in New York and London.
DNB claims to be transparent but in reality it’s not.
According to a press release the management team of the Dutch central bank has requested to investigate relocating the banknotes and gold vault that is currently located in the basement of bank’s headquarter at the Frederiksplein in Amsterdam.
In the press release we can read the reason for the investigation to relocate the vault flows from preparations to renovate the building that dates from 1968. While planning the renovation the subject to relocate the vault was brought up as the burdens for securing the metal is currently felt by all employees and visitors at the central bank’s headquarter. Storing 189.9 tonnes of gold at the Frederiksplein encompasses high security standards for all employees working in the building while nearly none of them have anything to do with the vault. In addition, whenever large batches of banknotes are transported to or from the vault the security measures can be complex in the center of Amsterdam. From this discomfort it’s considered to relocate the vault.
In November 2014 De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) disclosed to have repatriated 122.5 tonnes from the Federal Reserve Bank Of New York (FRBNY), which brought the total amount of gold stored in Amsterdam to 189.9 tonnes and left an equal amount (189.9 tonnes) in New York. In London at the Bank Of England DNB has stored 110.3 tonnes and in Ottawa, Canada, 122.5 tonnes are stored. In total Dutch official gold reserves stand at 612.5 tonnes.
From my perspective the official reason presented to relocate the gold can be legitimate, but it can be a decoy as well. After studying film footage shot in the DNB gold vault from October 2010, January 2012 and March 2014, all from before the repatriation in November 2014, we must conclude the vault compartment we can see is sufficiently large to hold 67.4 tonnes, but would be very tight to hold 189.9 tonnes. Surely there are other compartments in the vault, as we can see in the videos, though I’m not sure if all areas have been designed to carry exceptional large tonnages of gold. The soil in Amsterdam is known for largely consisting of clay, as opposed to the bedrock in Manhattan, this can be problematic for storing gold. There is a possibility the vault in Amsterdam is not suited to store 189.9 tonnes of gold, or more if DNB would ever decide to repatriate additional gold from the US, UK or Canada.
When I called DNB today I was directed to a spokesman, Martijn Pols, whom I asked when a final decision would be made on the vault relocation and whether they have any new locations in mind. I was told the Dutch central bank will come to a final conclusion by the end of this year and no new locations are on table as of yet. While talking to this gentleman I also took the opportunity to ask about the gold bar list.
On 26 September 2015 I visited a conference in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, called Reinvent Money. One of the speakers was Jacob De Haan from DNB’s Economics and Research Division – you can watch his presentation by clicking here. In his presentation De Haan repeatedly talked about the importance of transparency in central banking. These statements raised my eyebrows, as I’ve submitted a FOIA request at DNB in 2013 to ask for all correspondence between DNB and other central banks in the past 45 years with respect to its monetary gold, which was not honoured. From my experience DNB was anything but transparent.
After the presentation I approached De Haan and asked, if transparency is so important to DNB, why it has never published its gold bar list – an act of transparency that could be accomplished within minutes. De Haan offered me he would look into that. He gave me his email address and we agreed to stay in touch.
The next day I send De Haan an extensive email explicating my request at DNB to publish the gold bar list of the Dutch official gold reserves in excel format. I wrote him it wouldn’t take DNB any effort, as I assumed the bar list is already in their possession. De Haan never replied to me over email, so I called his office in December 2015 to ask what the status was of my request. De Haan’s secretary answered my inquiry was not rejected but still being processed.
Today, when I asked DNB’s spokesman over the phone about the bar list he answered the subject is still being discussed internal, he even confirmed De Haan was involved in this matter. Currently DNB is considering to release the document while carefully weighing al pros and cons, I was told. In the conversation Pols stated DNB knows the German central bank released a bar list in October 2015 and there was a wish in Amsterdam to mutually harmonize this policy. I added that if DNB would go ahead with its list their action would only be credible if the list would be complete, including all refinery brands, refinery bar numbers and year of manufacturing, in contrast to the incomplete list the Germans published. Pols was aware of the format the Germans had chosen and took note of my comment. An ensuing question from my side what’s holding back DNB in releasing the list could not be clearly answered.
I couldn’t resist translating this must read from 1993 in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad (h/t @frankknopers) about the gold sales by the Dutch central Bank (DNB). Presumably, “a part” of the 400 tonnes sold at the time through the Bank For International Settlements went to the Chinese central bank. Although we don’t know for sure what the Chinese central bank did with the gold – at the time the People’s Bank Of China was the primary dealer in the Chinese domestic gold market and in theory could have sold the gold to Chinese jewelry fabricators – we may assume it was kept for its official reserves.
The other week I published an article about the Chinese Gold Army that was established in 1979 to develop domestic gold mining and exploration. This signifies the People’s Bank Of China (PBOC) was laying the foundation for the Chinese gold market in the seventies. Later on, in 2002 the PBOC started to liberalize the gold market by launching the Shanghai Gold Exchange that took over gold allocation and the pricing mechanism from the central bank. Many of us thought that the PBOC only became active in the international OTC gold market to diversify its lopsided US dollar reserves after, say, 2009. But we were wrong, the PBOC was buying gold in London as early as 1992. No, we don’t know exactly how much or what they did with the gold, though for sure the PBOC has been designing its gold strategy decades ago along side its opening up policy.
Remarkably, the article from NRC noted that the Dutch central bank sold gold “to equalize its holdings relative to other important gold holding nations” and “it’s known China is working to increase its gold reserves to bring it more in line relative to its GDP”. One of the theories about our current international monetary system – that was detached from gold in 1971 – is that it can only shift to a new gold anchored system when the power blocks have equalized the chips (Jim Rickards). In other words, if the US, Europe, Russia and China all have an equal ratio of official gold reserves to their GDP, the international monetary system could make a transition towards gold.
Within the aforementioned theory China should have about 6,000 tonnes to come to the gold/GDP ratio the EU and Russia have (the US has a little less gold proportionally). Although it’s impossible to know how much the PBOC really holds, it’s certainly more than what they disclose at the moment, which is 1,743 tonnes. In a forthcoming post we will discuss the most recent ins and outs regarding PBOC official gold reserves. For now, enjoy the full article.
Note, at the time the article was published DNB held 1,090 tonnes of gold.
Last summer the President of the Dutch Central Bank, W. Duisenberg, persuaded the Minister Of Finance, W. Kok, of the need to sell a quarter of the Dutch gold reserves: “The time is right”. Part of the Dutch gold was probably sold at the end of last year to the People’s Republic Of China. The multi billion operation that has taking place in utmost secret is producing the state an annual 400 million guilders in extra benefits since 1994. “Part of the sale was handled outside the market.”
van Ewijk and L.J.R. Scholten: The profitability of De Nederlandsche Bank, in: ESB 1-7-1992. In ESB 19-8-1992 there was a sequel and in ESB 20-1-1993 both authors went on about the gold sales.
March 27, 1993
No. The gold of De Nederlandsche Bank [DNB] was not secretly loaded into a Chinese cargo plane at Schiphol and flown to Beijing. The gold of the Dutch Central Bank remained where it was, in the vaults of the Bank of England where it has been for years. Only the signs with the name of the owner of the gold bars were changed. A new name: for traders in the international gold market there is no doubt that the People’s Bank Of China (PBOC) has bought a part of the 400 tonnes of gold, a quarter of the Dutch gold reserves, which DNB has sold late last year in utmost secrecy.
“With 99 percent certainty we know that the People’s Bank of China has been one of the buyers of the Dutch gold”, said Philip Klapwijk from Goldfields Mining Services, an institute in London affiliated with the South African gold mines that specializes in research into the gold market. Also other London bullion dealers have a strong suspicion that China was involved in the gold sales of DNB. “We have noted that the Chinese central bank has bought gold in recent months”, said John Coley of the London bullion dealer Sharp Pixley and spokesman of the London Bullion Market Association.
At the Ministry of Finance in The Hague and at DNB in Amsterdam they know the story of the Chinese connection, but they remain tight lipped. “Everything is sold locally in London”, said the spokesman of DNB, JH du Marchie Sarvaas. The central bank is silent on the question of who was engaged in the sale and who the buyers were. “It is not in our interest to make announcements about it”, he said. Servaas will only tell us that the transactions have been set up in different ways and that DNB has not entered the market directly itself.
The spokesman of the Ministry of Finance, Dr. RP Florisson, stated not to know where the gold that was sold has gone. Some things, he added, you would rather not know. Members Of The House have neither any idea in what way the gold was sold. With the letter from 12 January by Kok that notified the Members Of the House about the gold sale came an attachment, though in it the ‘technical details’ from the original correspondence between Duisenberg and Kok were omitted. This was a crucial passage, which disclosed the name of the mediator in the gold sales, the Bank for International Settlements, the central bank of central banks.
Perhaps the phrase “silence is golden” finds its origin in the world of central banks. Like is the case in Operation Gold. In April 1992 DNB developed the intention to sell part of its gold stock and add the proceeds to its foreign exchange reserves. The Board Of Governors of the central bank, consisting of President Dr. WF Duisenberg and three other Directors, approved the plan. Only a few other employees were notified. In June Duisenberg shared his plan with Kok during one of their weekly lunch meetings. Kok hesitated at first because he feared he would be remembered as The Seller of the national gold.
Duisenberg explained that it was the sound fiscal policies from Kok and the strong position of the guilder that made the gold sales possible. Kok was persuaded. At the Ministry Of Finance the Deputy Comptroller General and the Director were informed. On 29 September Duisenberg sent a letter to Kok in which he explained that the sale was intended ”to equalize our gold holdings relative to other important gold holding nations”. The sale should not lead to loss of confidence in the guilder, not serve to fill the state coffers and not lead to disruption of the gold market. “Therefore, a high degree of secrecy is warranted”, Duisenberg wrote. If unexpected complications would arise DNB would waive the operation.
Kok agreed on 2 October and in the fall several sales transaction followed in the London forwards market. In addition, the Bank has for International Settlements (BIS) was involved as an intermediary. The BIS, which is based in Basel and was established in 1930 to administer the German reparations, is as closed as the Swiss banking secrecy. Who calls the BIS can enjoy the long version of Eine kleine Nachtmusik as on-hold music, to finally be told the BIS never releases any information.
Duisenberg expanded on the gold sales at a meeting of the BIS on 12 January 1993. The sale had already taken place, only the gold had yet to be delivered. Not all members of the BIS welcomed the Dutch move, nor were they consulted for its decision. That same day DNB published the news. A team from a TV news network was – under the pledge of secrecy –flown to Basel for an interview with Duisenberg. “The time is right” for the sale of part of the Dutch gold reserves, the President said.
The news dropped like a bomb. Rumors were circulating in the gold market late last year about possible Dutch gold sales, based on these rumors a reporter from news agency Reuters asked DNB for a response in November. It replied no announcements were ever made on market transactions. Gold traders were particularly surprised by the volume of sales: “It was very well done. I never knew that the market could absorb such an amount in such a short time without drastic price distortions”, said one gold dealer.
It was a huge deal. Four hundred tonnes is nearly a quarter of the total annual gold mine production. It is the equivalent to 32,000 gold bars of 12.5 Kg [400-ounce] and 26 centimeters in length, which placed end to end form of line of 8.32 kilometers. That is almost as long as the symbol of our national pride, the Oosterscheldedam.
With the sale DNB earned 7.5 billion guilders in US dollars, D-marks and Japanese yen that have been added to the foreign exchange reserves of the central bank. As these foreign exchange earn interest – unlike gold – the profit starting from 1994 is an annual 400 million guilders which will flow to the state coffers. Recent pleas from Members Of The House to invest this money in infrastructure have been rejected by Kok, who agreed with DNB that this amount, like other profits of the central bank, flow to the Treasury.
Seldom a critical note is written about the policy of DNB. Coincidentally, last year, while Duisenberg was preparing the gold sales in secret, a remarkable article in the journal for economists, ESB, was published. Casper van Ewijk and Bert Scholten, both working at the economics department of the University of Amsterdam, questioned the profitability of DNB. They concluded that the central bank, with its relatively large reserves of gold and foreign exchange, yields an extremely poor result on its investments. With that, the annual profit payment to the Treasury is a lot lower than possible.
In a second article – after the gold sale – the two economists claimed that DNB had sold too little gold and had waited too long with the sale. Now the gold was sold for an average of 18,800 guilders per kilo, while ten years before it could have been twice that amount. In those ten years, the gold yielded not one cent and its value only declined. The addition of the gold to the foreign exchange reserves was in their opinion, “unnecessary and therefore undesirable”, as the Netherlands has more than enough foreign exchange reserves. And the revenue of the sale, according to Van Ewijk and Scholten, could be better used to reduce the national debt. That gives the government more financial benefit than an annual interest income.
The defense of DNB – as expressed in replies from the Minister Of Finance to questions by the parliament – is that a central bank is not a hedge fund. The gold and foreign exchange reserves are not intended to maximize returns but to conduct a proper exchange rate policy and to ensure confidence in the guilder. As a result, it is also necessary to hold currency that offers a low rate of return. The gold is not held for speculation, but is a cornerstone of the monetary policy of the Netherlands as a major gold holding nation. When deciding on the time at which it sold some of the gold, the gold price did not play any role whatsoever.
The suggestion to use the principal proceeds to flow to the treasury could no find grace: the change in the composition of reserves (gold was converted into US dollars, D-marks and yen) is not a reason to pour assets of the central bank into the hole of the national deficit. If DNB would give in to this temptation that would be a monetary sin: financing the government deficit by the central bank. That happens in South America, or in Italy, but not in countries that appreciate a hard currency.
Gold plays a vital role in finance since trade emerged. Late last century all European countries and the United States went on the classical gold standard. The direct link between the amount of money in circulation to gold reserves at central banks broke the economies of the industrialized countries in the economic depression of the thirties. The Netherlands held on to gold until 1936 as one of the last countries together with Switzerland and France.
After the Second World War the US dollar ruled. Under the Bretton Woods system, which was set up in 1944 under US-British leadership, all currencies were pegged to the US dollar. This provided stability and dynamics because the Americans constantly pumped new dollars into the world economy. The Bretton Woods system created unprecedented economic growth for a quarter of a century. The gold did not disappear completely. To increase the credibility of the system, the United States declared their readiness to ensure the conversion of dollars into gold at a fixed price of 35 dollars per troy ounce (31.1 grams). The Americans could easily make that offer, because in 1944 they were in possession of three quarters of all the gold reserves in the world.
The Dutch government in exile had largely spent its gold reserves during the war. During the reconstruction foreign exchange reserves piled up in the fifties and sixties and DNB happily took advantage of the opportunity to convert dollars that were earned through exports, for gold in the US. Together with France The Netherlands was in those years the largest gold accumulator. French President General Charles de Gaulle said, in a famous news conference on 4 February 1965, about the US dollar hegemony and gold, “Ah! Gold its nature never changes, not in any form, bars or coins. It has no nationality, it is held eternal and universal as the unchangeable and trustworthy value par excellence”. Also in The Netherlands gold was held as an article of faith.
During the sixties the US gold reserves in Fort Knox severely declined. Eventually, President Nixon decided in 1971 to temporarily suspend the convertibility of dollars into gold. The ‘gold window’ was closed; the world had spent well over twenty five years to tap into the US gold reserves.
Since 1971 the gold reserves of DNB hardly changed. The spectacular rise in gold price to $850 dollars per troy ounce in early 1980 led to a great gain in the books but that was all. However, politicians in the seventies had their greedy eyes on the gold stocks to use these for employment projects and other fun things for the people to finance. President of DNB at the time, Dr. Jelle Zijlstra, abhorred such ideas. Not a single gram of gold was sold from the vaults of DNB.
Zijlstra and his successor Duisenberg feared gold sales would affect the position of the guilder. Moreover, the government deficit was so huge in the eighties that sales would be interpreted by financial markets as weakness. Gold supported confidence in the guilder and provided an aura of invulnerability.
During 1991 the gold inventories were casually mentioned in a conversation between senior officials of the Ministry Of Finance and DNB during the preparations for the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) – the plan for a European central bank and a common currency, which was clinched in the Maastricht Treaty. It was clear that the size of the Dutch gold stock was well above average in the EC. This would be disadvantageous if in a few years DNB must transfer part of its reserves to the European Central Bank (ECB).
As a rich gold country the Netherlands is at a disadvantage, because it participates for a relatively small amount in the ECB. The Netherlands threatens to get stuck in the monetary union with a huge amount of gold – that doesn’t yield – because according to ECB rules participating central banks may only purchase or sell gold and foreign exchange reserves with approval by the ECB. After ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, the freedom of DNB would be very limited. “The Netherlands has no interest in a large amount of gold”, said a source familiar with the matter.
The Netherlands receives a 4.7 percent share in the ECB based on the size of the Dutch population and the national economy. That’s less than the Dutch share of 7.3 percent in total international reserves (gold and foreign exchange) of all central banks in the EC and much less than the share of 11.7 percent in gold reserves. Even after the sale of 400 tonnes the Netherlands retains a stake in the EC gold reserves of 9.4 percent. DNB is expected to sell another 685 tonnes of gold to bring their gold share in line with that of the ECB. To reassure the gold market DNB states it will not sell any more gold, though financial experts expect that the gold reserves by EC central banks, including DNB, will be further adapted within the framework of the monetary union. “Last year the Belgian and Dutch central banks sold gold. That made gold sales by central banks respectable. Additional sales threaten the market”, said a London bullion dealer.
In the beginning of 1992, still in the fuddle of Maastricht and nine years after the traumatic devaluation of the guilder in 1983, the position of the guilder was very strong and the Dutch budget deficit was considerably reduced. In The Hague no one advocated to do any more fun things with the Dutch gold stocks. The time was right to proceed to sale.
It was not possible that DNB would enter the gold market itself, because that would be known immediately in the closed world of gold trading. The few remaining Dutch players in the gold market are tiny. In London, there are four major gold traders, Sharps Pixley, Samuel Montague, Mase Westpac and Rothschild. According to John Coley, spokesman of the London Bullion Market Association, it was obvious that DNB would use the BIS as an intermediary. Duisenberg is very well known in Basel because he was President Of The Board of the BIS from 1988 to 1990.
The advantage of the BIS is, as “central bank of central banks”, that it guarantees anonymity and direct access to the central banks of the member countries in Eastern and Western Europe as well as Australia, Canada, Japan and South Africa. A London trader suggested that DNB used the central bank of another member state of the BIS to bring the gold to the market. That could have been the central bank of South Africa, whose gold offers would not surprise any traders. South Africa is always very active in the London bullion market. The BIS could have acted as an intermediary between DNB and the South African central bank.
“Part of the sale was handled outside the market”, says Philip Klapwijk of Goldfield Mining Services. He says he came to this conclusion because the price of gold last year, although down slightly, it should have shown much greater fluctuations if 400 tonnes would have been sold – even if the supply would be split into small tranches.
The BIS probably made contact with the People’s Bank of China as the buyer. Why precisely the People’s Republic of China? Chinese love gold, says an expert, and he refers to the huge Taiwanese gold purchases in 1987. Second, China has large dollar surpluses as a result of the spectacular economic growth. And third, China announced that it is working to build up its reserves in order to bring it more in line with the size of the Chinese GDP.
The weekly table of DNB, which is published every Wednesday in the newspaper, we can see since February a decline in Dutch gold reserves. Presumably, the increase in the gold reserves of China will never be visible. The statistics produced by the International Monetary Fund for China record the same amount of gold for a decade, coincidentally about 400 tonnes. China experts, however, know that the People’s Bank has second secret gold reserves, which are held outside the statistics in “non-monetary gold”. If part of the gold reserves of DNB have been added to these, as many suspect, no one will ever officially know.
Frequent followers of the German public campaign “Repatriate our Gold“ already know how intensively we have been struggling since 2011 (and longer) with Deutsche Bundesbank to finally – after more than 50 years of external storage of Germany’s gold – get credible transparency regarding this matter. Some progress was brought about recently (2012 disclosure of the whereabouts of Germany´s gold by BuBa; 2013 partial repatriation plan announced by BuBa; 2013 and ongoing through 2015 alleged physical repatriation of approximately 200 tons to date – equaling approximately 10% of Germany’s gold abroad). But real proof and transparency is still lacking from Bundesbank’s side!
One of the oldest demands from our campaign has been (and still is!) the publicationof BuBa’s gold bar number lists from all four storage locations. Lists that should have been static (i.e. unchanged) since 1968 when Germany’s gold accumulation (was) ended; a full three years before the official end of the underlying Bretton Woods system. Yesterday, October 7, 2015; a full 47 years later and after five years of our heavy lobbying against BuBa’s ridiculous “security concerns” regarding the publication of the lists, the Deutsche Bundesbank officially and finally did publish a so-called “gold bar list”. The “list-to-end-all-conspiracy-theories” was celebrated both in a BuBa press release “Bundesbank publishes gold bar list” as well as in the (naïve) mainstream media. Confer e.g. Bloomberg “Bundesbank to Doubters: Here Is Our Gold. Every. Single. Bit of It.”
This article is intended to dismiss the impression which writers from both BuBa and its “external media department” at Bloomberg are clearly and provocatively trying to give:“Bundesbank to Doubters: Here Is Our Gold. Every. Single. Bit of It. Germany’s central bank has listed all of its gold.”
For the umpteenth time in 47 years, BuBa yesterday pretended to give transparency regarding Germany’s gold – but again failed miserably. I hereby challenge both BuBa’s Mr Weidmann and Mr Thiele and Bloomberg’s Mr Lorcan Roche Kelly to either withdraw their apodictic and loud but still completely unproven propaganda statement “Here is our gold– finally do believe it you stupid gold bug nutcases!!” – or to prove their so far unfounded and factually wrong statement!
1. No bar number list was made available by Bundesbank
Firstly, I am asking journalists and interested readers to open the 2,300 page long “custodian gold holdings – bar list” document : Everybody can see at first glance that the very first column of the “gold bar” list starting on page 7 is headlined “INVENTORY number” rather than “Producer’s Bar number”. An “INVENTORY number” however is something COMPLETELY different than the “Producer’s bar number”! It is a number artificially created on paper or a plastic sticker by the respective central bank which has nothing to do / no connection with the unique producers’ bar number pressed on the bars physically by the refineries when a bar is cast! The difference is absolutely CRUCIAL in that the very point of having a REAL gold bar number list is to enable a critical global public of gold experts and independent auditors as well as us-the-people and owners of the gold to check every individual bar not only regarding its physical existence but also to detect double countings on OTHER balance sheets (from central banks, Gold-ETFs, etc.)! The artificial and highly unusual “INVENTORY bar number” method Bundesbank has chosen to now publish “a gold bar list” completely fails in that respect. This list is worthless as a basis for sound, physical and worldwide auditing and counterchecking of all available global bar lists in order to detect and avoid double countings. We hereby claim that this approach by BuBa and its “sub-custodians” (Banque de France, Bank of England and Federal Reserve) was a DELIBERATE smokescreen chosen to confuse the worldwide public without providing transparency! This approach cannot be excused in any way by Bundesbank’s very “honest” fine print for the list: “The Bundesbank, the Bank of England and the Banque de France use internally assigned inventory numbers, whereby the Bank of England and the Banque de France only allow part of this internal number to be published. The gold bar list therefore only shows the last three digits for its gold bars stored at the Bank of England and the Banque de France.” This is NO industry-standard bar number list – individual bars could only be unambiguously identified if Bundesbank had provided the producer’s bar numbers as well as the name of the producing refinery as well as the year the bars have been cast! “Repatriate our gold” hereby officially demands this additional information which should be very easy for Bundesbank to publish!
2. Why and how many bars in list newer than 1968?
Secondly, we challenge the Bundesbank to explain why with almost 100% certainty the REAL bar number list as detailed under 1. would NOT exclusively consist of bars produced in the 1950s and 1960s – ending exactly in 1967 or 1968 latest. Since 1968, Germany’s gold hoard should have been completely untouched with one or two possible exceptions due to lendings on a very small scale according to BuBa’s own statements in the past. We-the-owners of the gold demand to know whether, why, and how many of Germany’s bars (if actually existent and uncompromised) are younger than 1968 in BuBa’s vaults or the vaults of our sub-custodians. And how it is possible that (according to the list released yesterday) almost all bars are of 995 or higher fineness – even though pre-1967 this fineness had been rather uncommon especially in the US. And why – since obviously LBMA-standards are now met by practically all bars in the new list – Bundesbank still chose to melt down bars allegedly repatriated from the US in 2013-2014 (thereby destroying old bar numbers) without any photo / video proof of this process?
3. Audit the Fed – and the BuBa and the Banque de France and the Bank of England
Once all of these very valid and justified questions are not only answered verbally but backed up by clear evidence (i.e. a REAL bar number list!) – the work will only have to begin: The Federal reserve has not published any information regarding a real audit in its vaults (US-gold or custodial gold) since 1953 – one might even say since the 1930s! Similar story at the BoE and BdF vaults and even in Frankfurt! “Holt unser Gold heim” / “Repatriate our Gold” continues to demand physical and external audits performed by sworn-in auditors independent from the central banks – with all detailed results publicised. In addition, we demand the acceleration of Bundesbank’s “repatriation scheme” announced in 2013 – which is way too intransparent, too slow and not ambitious enough (only 50% of Germany´s gold in Frankfurt by end-2020)!
In summary – we have to strongly dismiss Bloomberg’s completely unfounded conclusion: “Here Is The Gold. Every. Single. Bit of It. Germany’s central bank has listedall of its gold”. We call on both Bundesbank and on an independent, investigative international media to have a second and third look into the matter – and then to definitely come to a much more critical conclusion! Bloomberg’s conclusion is either ridiculously ill-founded and / or has been pre-written by the Bundesbank itself in a vain effort to finally and for good end all gold debates: “[Obviously], Bundesbank has become tired of people asking and decided to give the doubters enough [gold] data to keep them busy for a very, very long time.” Wrong and wishful thinking: The case of the whereabouts and the physical and (un-?)compromised status of Germany’s gold has NOT been closed yesterday by Deutsche Bundesbank! The work has barely begun – but without REAL bar number lists and REAL audits, it CANNOT even BEGIN in earnest. The struggle will have to continue – Bundesbank leaves no other choice to the owners of the gold. And the issue will not go away from the desks of Mr Weidmann and Mr Thiele. “We. Demand. A. Real. Bar. List. Not. Yet. Another. Paper. Trail. Without. Any. Evidence.”
Peter Boehringer is founder and president of “German Precious Metal Society” – an NGO established in 2006. He is also the most widely read writer on gold matters in German language countries, a frequent speaker on precious metal conferences and the initiator of the German and international campaign “Repatriate our Gold” which has prompted similar public campaigns for gold repatriation in more than a dozen countries. He is the author of the Book “Holt unser Gold heim” / “Repatriate our Gold”, published in 2015 in German in renowned “Finanzbuchverlag” editing house. https://www.facebook.com/Holt.unser.Gold.heim.PeterBoehringer
Belgium sold 1,098 tonnes of its official gold reserves since 1978.
For our global investigation how much physical gold central banks have stored at what location and how much is leased out, I decided to submit the local equivalent of a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request at the central bank of Belgium, de Nationale Bank van België (NBB), to obtain information about the amount of Belgian official gold reserves, the exact location of all gold bars, the type of gold accounts NBB holds at the Bank Of England (BOE) and how much is leased out and to whom. The outcome of this research was not what I had expected.
History Of The Official Gold Reserves Of Belgium
Some of the questions I directed at the NBB I used a stepping stone, as this information is publicly available in part. At the end of August 2015 NBB was holding 227.4 tonnes of gold, down 0.04 tonnes from 227.44 tonnes in July, according to data from the Bundesbank that publishes the gold holdings of 19 European central banks and the ECB in compliance with the IMF’s most recent version of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6). The Bundesbank (BuBa) publishes the fine troy ounces of the official gold reserves in ‘Gold bullion’ and ‘Unallocated gold accounts’. If we add up both categories the outcome for all countries equals the reserves disclosed by the World Gold Council.
The balance of payments statistics will … be consistent with the framework set out in the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6). The application of the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6) is binding for EU member states by virtue of a regulation adopted by the European Commission.
Back in 1965 NBB was holding over 1,300 tonnes of gold. Since 1978 it has sold a whopping 1,098 tonnes, or 83 %.
Belgium was one of the eight participating countries in the London Gold Pool, together with the US, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland, that operated from 1961 until 1968 to stabilize the gold price at $35 an ounce by selling/buying gold in the London bullion market. Eventually the pool collapsed in 1968 because the US had printed too many dollars and France was not willing to sell any more gold to defend the gold price at $35. Remarkably, Belgian official gold reserves dropped significantly after the Pool collapsed, from 1978 until 1999. Likely, NBB was partially seeking to diversify its reserves into higher yielding assets or to lower the national debt, in addition it could have sold metal to lower the price or to “equalize its holdings relative to other gold holding nations”. Let me explain that last quote. Belgium was not the only European country that has sold vast amounts of gold in the nineties and before. When the Dutch Minister Of Finance in 2011, J.C. De Jager, was questioned about the gold sales of the central bank of the Netherlands in the nineties he answered:
Question 6: Can you confirm that since 1991 DNB [central bank of the Netherlands] has sold 1,100 tonnes of the 1,700 tonnes it owned…
Answer 6: Since 1991 DNB sold 1,100 tonnes. At the time DNB determined that from an international perspective it owned a lot of gold proportionally. It decided to equalize its gold holdings relative to other important gold holding nations.
So, the independent central bank of the Netherlands (DNB) had decided to sell gold because “from an international perspective it owned a lot of gold proportionally”. Clearly DNB was considering the amount of gold reserves of other central banks and weighed these against its own holdings before it decided to make a downward adjustment. Was this a unilateral decision for the sake of balanced gold reserves among central banks? I don’t think so.
In 1999 the Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA, also called the Washington Agreement On Gold) was signed by 14 European central banks, inter alia NBB, to jointly manage gold sales. This demonstrates central banks are not unfamiliar with managing their gold reserves in concert. First there was the London Gold Pool, then the Dutch sold gold to equalize their holdings relative to other central banks and then CBGA was signed.
Maybe NBB has sold part of its reserves prior to 1999 for the same reason De Jager mentioned; to equalize the chips. Allegedly this was the idea behind the euro. GoldCore wrote on 28 May 2013:
Belgium announced another sale of 203 tons of gold on March 27, 1996, stating that the sale had reduced the share of gold in total reserves to a level which would facilitate the participation of the National Bank of Belgium [NBB] in the process of European unification and which, corresponded to the proportion of gold in the total reserves of the Member States of the European Union.
More information about the Belgian gold reserves that was perviously known: most of it is stored at the BOE in London, the heart of the global gold lease market, hence my question at the NBB regarding the type of gold accounts it has with the BOE. From searching the internet and the website of NBB I could read Belgium had leased out 84 tonnes of its gold reserves in 2011, this decreased to 37 tonnes in 2012 (lent to 5 commercial banks) and 25 tonnes in 2013 (lent to 5 commercial banks).
Data from the Bundesbank shows Belgium has a steady 17 tonnes of ‘unallocated gold’ since January 2013 and 210 tonnes of ‘gold bullion’. Apparently reserves qualified as ‘gold bullion’ (allocated gold) can be leased out, as in 2013 NBB had leased out more than was unallocated (25 tonnes versus 17 tonnes). This makes me wonder why Belgium still has any unallocated gold. (It also makes me wonder how much of the allocated gold held by other central banks is leased out.)
NBB wrote me that aside from the rules they aim to be as transparent as possible by disclosing all information to the public about their official gold reserves that is not sensitive. NBB wrote me (my translation):
- Total NBB gold reserves amount to 227.4 tonnes (7,311,955.9 fine ounces).
- The majority of this stock is stored at the Bank or England [BOE]. The remainder is at the Bank of Canada and the Bank for International Settlements. A very tiny amount is stored at the NBB.
- The storage and safekeeping abroad happens according to standards and practices that are common among central banks.
- Against a guarantee covering 101.5 % of the credit NBB had an average of 15.7 tons of gold leased out in 2014. The counterparties are commercial banks with high creditworthiness. The NBB will not enter into any new gold leases and leave the existing book until it’s fully unwound in February 2018.
Because I sensed to be in touch with an employee from NBB that knew all about the Belgian gold, I asked why they had sold 1,098 tonnes of gold since 1978? Was it to diversify reserve assets, reduce the national debt or to be accepted to the Eurosystem. NBB replied (my translation):
The sales in question took place in the context of a more balanced composition of the reserves of NBB with regard to its integration into the European System of Central Banks, although it was not the result of a legal obligation.
Next I asked what the reason was to sell the gold if there was no legal obligation, was there a verbal agreement among central banks? NBB replied (my translation):
The aspects of the management of the foreign reserves that have not been communicated by the NBB through its annual reports and press releases constitute confidential information that can not be disclosed on the grounds of professional secrecy laid down in Article 35 of the law of 22 February 1998 establishing the Statute of the NBB.
So indeed there was a secret agreement among central banks to sell gold and balance reserves, but NBB is not required to disclose this information based on “Article 35 of the law of 22 February 1998 establishing the Statute of the NBB” – a law that was passed right before CBGA was signed and the euro was launched. Actually, the details of the agreement are secondary because NBB’s statement “the sales in question took place in the context of a more balanced composition of the reserves of NBB with regard to its integration into the European System of Central Banks”, is very clear to me. Especially when we add De Jager’s statement from 2011, “DNB determined that from an international perspective it owned a lot of gold proportionally. It decided to equalize its gold holdings relative to other important gold holding nations.”
I can’t be a coincidence both central banks sold gold prior to 1999 for “more balanced reserves” while the sales would not have been executed in conjunction of each other. My conclusion is that the gold sales of European central banks prior to CBGA have been jointly managed in secret.
Here you can read the full email exchange between me and NBB in Dutch.
The repatriation from the UK is not true…. There are other and more effective ways to verify if the gold in London is really ours. We have an audit committee that inspects the Belgian gold in the UK regularly…. Repatriating would be more expansive with transport, storage and security costs.
One thing is for sure, the Belgians are nervous about their gold (227 tonnes) held abroad. In December 2014 the Luc Coene admitted he was investigating to repatriate all Belgian gold reserves, on TV-network VTM Nieuws:
Luc Coene: If one feels that in surrounding countries these decisions are taken, one knows that this question will be asked to us as well. We’re pro-active investigating all the elements, so when the question will be asked, we can answer it.
The practical problem is the transport of the gold, with all the risk that come with it. Second, if we repatriate we need to setup a large security system in Belgium. Though currently this is done by certain central banks that are specialized in this.
Did the investigation point out the transport and storage costs would be too high? Currently the storage fee NBB pays to its custodians (BOE, BIS, Bank of Canada) is €250,000 a year. Is Belgium not repatriating because of the costs or because it got obstructed by other authorities?
Last week I reported about the mystery regarding the fine gold tonnage claimed to have been repatriated by the Netherlands and Germany in 2014 from New York (208 tonnes), and the drop in total foreign gold deposits disclosed by the Federal Reserve Bank Of New York (FRBNY) in 2014 (177 tonnes). The mystery – that adds to a long list of oddities – couldn’t be clarified to me by the central bank of the Netherlands, Germany or US. Additionally, I called and emailed to the central bank of the Ukraine to ask whether they had deposited any gold in New York in 2014 that could help explain the mysterious 31 tonnes gap. Until now, all four central banks were reluctant to say anything that could restore their common credibility, but perhaps one will in the future – still waiting on email reply from the central bank of the Ukraine.
There is enough evidence European countries, among others, are nervous about the security of their official gold reserves stored abroad – who wouldn’t be if unprecedented amounts of physical gold were moving to Asia while Western consultancy firms are clearly underreporting this trend. Accidentally there are more and more stories popping up that might be a backwash from the tension between the big custodians (FRBNY, BOE) and the gold owners.
This story about Belgium repatriating 200 tonnes from the UK, which was officially denied after a few hours by the NBB, makes the story of the Netherlands that bought 10 tonnes last December, which was also officially denied after a few hours, more suspicious. I hate to speculate, though our central banks and the impossibility of the numbers they put out force me to speculate – apparently there is no other option.
The fact the 31 tonnes gap is not being elucidated by the central banks in concert might signal these central banks have something to hide. If the custodians have something to hide, we can ask ourselves; did Belgium apply for withdrawing 200 tonnes of gold from the UK, but shortly after got a telephone call this request was not part of the range of possibilities? Or will the Belgians repatriate, but for security reasons don’t like the global press to know?
From January to December 2014 the Federal Reserve Bank Of New York (FRBNY) has been drained from 176.81 tonnes of physical gold out of the foreign deposit accounts. A drop from 6,195.60 tonnes to 6,018.79 tonnes over 12 months, FRBNY data published on Friday showed. The FRBNY doesn’t disclose how much is withdrawn by which central bank.
These numbers do not match the claims made in Europe about gold repatriated from the US. This is bad news.
On November 21, 2014, the Dutch central bank, De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB), surprised the world by stating they had in utmost secret repatriated 122.5 tonnes from their gold deposit at the FRBNY. Although not specifically disclosed by DNB, all the gold must have been repatriated in 2014.
Some simple math: 122.5 tonnes plus 85 tonnes is 207.5 tonnes; this is the amount DNB and the Bundesbank claim to have withdrawn from the vaults in New York. The FRBNY states it only delivered 176.81 tonnes to their European allies across the pond. The gap accounts for 30.69 tonnes; this is “the problem” the three central banks are now facing.
“The problem” adds to a range of events that happened since 2011 and fueled speculation about whether the FRBNY can fulfill all their gold obligations to foreign depositors.
Repatriating gold from New York in itself means the Europeans don’t trust the FRBNY as the custodian for their gold.
In 2012 the Bundesbank presented a schedule to ship home 150 tonnes from the US in three years (ending in 2015). In 2013 the Bundesbank changed their schedule to repatriate 674 tonnes from New York (300) and Paris (374) over seven years. Why did they change their initial schedule and why would it take seven years to hire a few planes to ship the gold from New York to Germany?
In 2013 the Bundesbank only received 5 tonnes from New York. That is very little gold given Germany should have safely stored more than 1,400 tonnes in nine compartments at the FRBNY. How hard can it be for the FRBNY to process a withdrawal request by a customer?
The first batch from New York, the 5 tonnes, was said to be recast into LGD bars before stored in Frankfurt, but the Bundesbank refused to disclose why. In any case, the origin of newly cast bars can’t be traced, that makes it impossible to know if it came from New York or someplace else.
During the recasting of the bars no independent external auditors were present.
50 of the 85 tonnes Germany repatriated from New York in 2014 were recast in LGD bars before stored in the vaults in Frankfurt. Again, no details were disclosed by the Bundesbank about bar numbers, nor was any independent party allowed to audit and assay the gold. For some reason the Bundesbank did mention the BIS was involved in an audit: “We also called on the expertise of the Bank for International Settlements for the spot checks that had to be carried out. As expected, there were no irregularities”
Late January 2015 the IMF published an update of the foreign exchange reserves of the Netherlands that showed DNB had bought 10 tonnes of gold in December 2014. A few hours later DNB denied it had bought any gold, without elaborating on how the IMF got the false numbers. Kind of adventitious given everything mentioned above. Perhaps DNB did buy gold in 2014 because there was something wrong with the gold they repatriated from the FRBNY or they wanted to repatriate more, but weren’t allowed? Of course, this had to be carefully covered up. Any problem that would have occurred from repatriating gold from the FRBNY can never be openly discussed for it would destabilize the international monetary order.
The list goes on and on. Perhaps the latest data released by the FRBNY is a typo, perhaps 30.69 tonnes was shipped to Germany early January 2015 and the Bundesbank counted this as repatriated in 2014 to make the tonnage shipped home in 2014 look less worrisome compared to the tonnage DNB got back, perhaps there is a explanation for the gap in tonnage reported by both sides of the Atlantic. I surely hope so. In any case it’s very alarming the three central banks didn’t even take the simple effort to make it seem all the numbers add up.
I will call and email all three central banks on Monday to confront them with the current situation, although I doubt either will change any of their numbers. In my opinion there can only be three causes for “the problem”:
Someone is lying. That can be DNB, the FRBNY or the Bundesbank.
There has been a gold swap between the FRBNY and some other central bank. This other central bank (or BIS) would than have delivered 30.69 tonnes to Germany, in return it got a claim on gold at the FRBNY. But why? Such a scenario wouldn’t lift any concerns regarding the FRBNY’s gold obligations, au contraire. Besides, both DNB and the Bundesbank specifically meant to repatriate gold from New York, where according to official sources their gold is supposed to be.
UPDATE 8 PM GMT+1: Commenter “awgee” (read below) asked me if I failed to consider if a central bank, other than DNB or the Bundesbank, added gold to their stock at the FRBNY in 2014 which could explain the gap. The answer is I didn’t consider this, though it’s a very good point. If any central bank deposited approximately 31 tonnes in 2014 this would actually be the most obvious explanation for “the problem”. As far as my data goes back (1995), the last time a deposit was visibly made was in October 2011 (4 tonnes), and before that in February 1999 (3 tonnes). It doesn’t happen often, but it can happen. (as the FRBNY only discloses the total amount of gold in foreign accounts, we can only see deposits being made during a month with no withdrawals or during a month when deposits transcend withdrawals).
Many newswires are reporting the Dutch central bank has increased its gold holdings by 10 tonnes in December 2014. However, the increase in holdings is not shown on the balance sheet of the central bank of the Netherlands.
Just a moment ago the Dutch central bank (DNB) officially denied the increase of its precious metals holdings. So we can rest assure DNB did not buy any gold.
The central bank of Germany, BuBa, has just released the numbers of their gold repatriation activities in 2014. More than expected the Germans shipped home 85 tonnes of gold from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY), previously BuBa hinted at withdrawing 30 to 50 tonnes from New York in 2014, from France 35 tonnes were returned. Below we can see an overview from BuBa of all repatriation activities since 2013:
There has been a lot of fuzz about the German gold repatriation schedule, which in 2013 was set to return 674 tonnes before 2020, when only 37 tonnes reached German soil in the first year. Many eyebrows were lifted in the gold space; is there any gold left in New York? Why is it taking seven years to repatriate a few hundred tonnes? Especially the fact only 5 tonnes were returned from the FRBNY in 2013 was suspicious. In my opinion it’s very strange only 5 tonnes returned in the first year, but as far as my intelligence goes this wasn’t unilaterally obstructed by the Fed.
More speculation went round when in November The Netherlands announced they had secretly repatriated 122.5 tonnes from New York. The FRBNY publishes on a monthly basis how much gold they hold in total as foreign deposits. When we learned The Netherlands had repatriated 122.5 tonnes somewhere in between January and November 2014, some suspected most of what was drained from the FRBNY, as published by year to date FRBNY data, was brought to The Netherlands and Germany wouldn’t meet its schedule for 2014. But because the FRBNY data lags a few months analysts could only speculate as they didn’t have the total numbers of 2014.
At this moment we have FRBNY data up to November.
January till November 2014 the FRBNY was drained for 166 tonnes, if we subtract 123 tonnes The Netherlands got out that leaves 43 tonnes for Germany. The fact Germany claims to have repatriated 85 tonnes from New York in 2014 means they must have pulled 42 tonnes from the Manhattan vaults in December. By the end of this month (January 2015) the FRBNY will release the foreign deposit data of December and we’ll see if the numbers match. If not, there obviously is “a problem”. Otherwise, everything is going to plan and we are only left to think about whatreasons BuBa has to take seven years to repatriate 674 tonnes. Perhaps this time is needed for out great leaders to shape a new international monetary system. Who knows? It can’t be because of logistical reasons as hundreds of tonnes of gold are shipped around the world every year – for example, Switzerland exported 2,777 tonnes of gold in 2013.
The number we all have been waiting for; The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY), which is the custodian for parts of the official gold reserves of 36 nations and the IMF, e.g. The Netherlands and Germany, saw its inventory of foreign gold deposits drop by 47 tonnes in November 2014. Year to date the FRBNY has lost 166 tonnes. The FRBNY only publishes how much gold it stores in total for foreign nations and the IMF, not country specific.
The German central bank, the Bundesbank, or BuBa, first announced a gold repatriation program in 2012. BuBa then revised their program in 2013; it intended to repatriate 300 tonnes of gold from the US and 374 tonnes from France by the end of 2020. However, in 2013 they only received a meager 5 tonnes from the US and 32 tonnes from France. No worries though, said Carl-Ludwig Thiele from BuBa, in 2014 Germany aims to get 30 to 50 tonnes back from New York to remain on schedule.
Last November the Dutch central bank (DNB) surprisingly reported it had secretively repatriated 122.5 tonnes from New York. Quickly everybody in the gold space grabbed his or her calculator. If the Dutch got 122.5 tonnes from the FRBNY somewhere in between January and November, than how much should have been withdrawn in total from the FRBNY over this period, in order for Germany to remain on schedule? Now we know, based on official numbers: 166 tonnes was withdrawn in the first eleven months of this year, The Netherlands got 122.5 tonnes, which leaves 44 tonnes that Germany potentially got out of the vaults in Manhattan.
If the remaining 44 tonnes were all for sie Germans, this means Buba could be exactly on track to repatriate 30 to 50 tonnes this year.
Were both the dot-com bubble and housing bubble in the US preceded by large outflows of foreign gold deposits from the FRBNY?
The German central bank still has some explaining to do. How did the Dutch get 122.5 tonnes back in few months and do they take seven years to repatriate 300 tonnes?
Rectification: in this post I speculated The Netherlands repatriated 122.5 tonnes in two months (October and November 2014). This was obviously incorrect.
Only 11 % of Dutch official gold reserves, which is 613 tons in total, is stored in Amsterdam. The rest is held abroad; 20 % in Ottawa, 20 % in London and 49 % in New York. Because of my believe gold will re-enter the monetary system within a few years I’m most concerned about the safety of the official gold reserves of the Netherlands held abroad. Just like the Germans are, expressed by the repatriation of some of their gold. Germany decided to repatriate 300 tons from New York and 374 tons from Paris in a seven year period, so that at least half of their gold reserves are stored at home. The following slide is from a gold report written by the German central bank, the Bundesbank:
From second hand I had heard the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) and the Federal reserve (the custodian of the Dutch gold in New York) did have some correspondence in recent years about monetary gold, but the Dutch did not decide to repatriate any gold because the subject was rather sensitive, according to my source. Through which we can conclude it’s vey likely the FED doesn’t hold all the foreign gold they claim, how else can this subject be sensitive. If a friend would store a book in my home for 30 years but would like to have it back at a certain moment I would be happy to return it. Only if I would have lost or sold the book his request would be rather sensitive.
In The Netherlands we have a law called WOB (Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur). It means the law for openness of governess, this is the Dutch version of FOIA.
On December 12, 2013 I sent the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) a WOB request to inspect all correspondence, from the past 45 years, regarding monetary gold between DNB and all other central banks, mainly the Federal Reserve.
The next day I got a call from DNB in which they told me they received the request and it would be processed, confirmed by a letter four days later.
Wow, great service I thought. I was looking forward to reading the correspondence.
But then on December 20, 2013, I got another letter from DNB.
Translated in short: the WOB act applies for just about everything the government does, except its gold dealings. What a surprise..
Of course I will fight this till the end. I would also like to encourage everybody around the world to ask his central bank about their gold allocation. Do not forget the official gold reserves of a (democratic) country are owned by its citizens, not by a few politicians. So why are we not allowed to examine our own gold?
To be continued…
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