A gold reserve is the gold held by a national central bank, intended as a store of value and as a guarantee to redeem promises to pay depositors, note holders (e.g. paper money), or trading peers, or to secure a currency.
It has been estimated that all the gold mined by the end of 2011 totalled 171,300 tonnes. At a price of US$1,500 per troy ounce, reached on 12 April 2013, one tonne of gold has a value of approximately US$48.2 million. The total value of all gold ever mined would exceed US$8.2 trillion at that valuation.[note 1]
However, there are varying estimates of the total amount of gold mined to date, mainly because gold has been mined for thousands of years around the world. Another reason is that some countries are not particularly open about how much gold they are mining. In addition, it is difficult to account for gold output in illegal mining activities.
Gold Reserves - Wartime Relevance (Example from World War II)
During most of history, a nation's gold reserves were considered its key financial asset and a major prize of war. A typical view was expressed in a secret memorandum by the British Chief of the Imperial General Staff from October 1939, at the beginning of World War II. The British Military and the British Secret Service laid out “measures to be taken in the event of an invasion of Holland and Belgium by Germany” and presented them to the War Cabinet:
- “It will be for the Treasury in collaboration with the Bank of England, and the Foreign Office, to examine the possible means of getting the bullion and negotiable securities into the same place of safety. The transport of many hundreds of tons of bullion presents a difficult problem and the loading would take a long time. The ideal would of course be to have the gold transferred to this country or to the United States of America. [...] The gold reserves of Belgium and Holland amount to about £70 million and £110 million respectively. [Foot]Note: H. M. Treasury has particularly requested that this information, which is highly confidential should in no circumstances be divulged. The total weight of this bullion amounts to about 1800 tons and its evacuation would be a matter of the utmost importance would present a considerable problem if it had to be undertaken in a hurry when transport facilities were disorganized. At present this gold is believed to be stored at Brussels and The Hague respectively, neither of which is very well placed for its rapid evacuation in an emergency.”
The Belgian government rushed to ship the gold to a safe place: Dakar, the capital of Senegal, then part of the French colonial empire. After the Germans occupied Belgium and France in 1940, they demanded the Belgian gold reserve back. In 1941, Vichy French officials arranged the transport of almost 5,000 boxes with 221 tons of gold to officials of the German Reichsbank.
IMF Gold Holdings
Since early 2011, the gold holdings of the IMF has been constant at 90.5 million troy ounces (2,814.1 metric tons).
Officially Reported Gold Holdings
The IMF regularly maintains statistics of national assets as reported by various countries. These data are used by the World Gold Council to periodically rank and report the gold holdings of countries and official organizations.
On 17 July 2015, China announced that it increased its gold reserves by about 57 percent from 1,054 to 1,658 metric tons, while disclosing its official gold reserves for the first time in six years.
The gold listed for each of the countries in the table may not be physically stored in the country listed, as central banks generally have not allowed independent audits of their reserves. Gold leasing by central banks could place into doubt the reported gold holdings in the table below.
|Gold's share of
|3||International Monetary Fund||2,814.0||N.A.|
|13||European Central Bank||504.8||26.5%|
|14||Republic of China (Taiwan)||423.6||3.9%|
|33||Bank for International Settlements||108.0||N.A.|
Privately Held Gold
|1||SPDR Gold Shares||ETF||672.7|
|2||ETF Securities Gold Funds||ETF||215.2|
|3||COMEX Gold Trust||ETF||164.7|
|4||ZKB Physical Gold||ETF||138.7|
|5||Central Fund of Canada||CEF||52.7|
|6||Julius Baer Physical Gold Fund||ETF||49.1|
|7||Sprott Physical Gold Trust||CEF||38.6|
|9||ABSA NewGold Exchange Traded Fund||ETF||26.6|
|10||ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares||ETF||23.4|
World Gold Holdings
|Share of total
world gold holdings
|Investment (bars, coins)||33,000||19.26%|
- Federal Reserve Bank of New York
- Gold as an investment
- Gold repatriation
- Gold reserves of Norway
- Gold standard
- List of countries by gold production
- Moscow gold, the reserves of the Bank of Spain sent to the Soviet Union during the Spanish Civil War.
- Romanian Treasure, the Romanian gold reserves sent (alongside other valuable objects) to Russia for safekeeping during World War I, but never returned.
- Peak gold
- Silver as an investment
- Strategic Petroleum Reserve (United States)
- United States Bullion Depository, often known as Fort Knox.
- Vaulted gold
- One tonne is equal to approximately 32,150.75 troy ounces.
- on page 2 of the pdf file; last paragraph just before the "Production" section on that page
- "BBC News - How much gold is there in the world?". BBC News.
- Memorandum by War Cabinet Secretary E. E. Bridges from October 6, 1939, Secret: Holland and Belgium: Measures to be taken in the event of an invasion by Germany. P. 1 and 4. The National Archives (United Kingdom)
- Other sources report only 41 tons.
- "Gold in the IMF". International Monetary Fund.
- "Data Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity -- Reporting Countries".
- "Gold & Foreign Exchange Reserves".
- "中国人民银行、国家外汇管理局有关负责人就我国全口径外债、外汇储备、黄金储备等情况答记者问(17 July 2015)"
- "- Sprott Global Resource Investments Ltd.".
- "Research - World Gold Council".
- "Gold Demand Trends".
- "Top 40 reported official gold holdings (as at March 2015)" is on the 24th page of the pdf file.
- Gold has been added to Turkey’s balance sheet as a result of a policy accepting gold in its reserve requirements from commercial banks.
- "CORRECTED-TABLE-Holdings of SPDR Gold, iShares Silver unchanged (March 30)". Reuters. 2 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "Total Gold in Trust". SPDR Gold Shares. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "Central Fund's Net Asset Value". Central Fund of Canada. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "Net Asset Value - Sprott Physical Gold Trust - Sprott Physical Bullion Trusts". Sprott Asset Management. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "Daily audit - Allocated gold bar lists and bank statements". BullionVault. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "NewGold Exchange Traded Fund". Absa Group. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares". ETF Securities. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "GoldTrust's Net Asset Value". Central GoldTrust. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "Monthly Total Value Report". GoldMoney. 31 July 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "DollarDaze Economic Commentary Blog - Gold, Oil, Stocks, Investments, Currencies, and the Federal Reserve: Two Methods for Estimating the Price of Gold by Mike Hewitt". Dollardaze.org. Retrieved 2012-01-08.