SPDR Gold Shares
SPDR Gold Shares (also known as SPDR Gold Trust) is part of the SPDR family of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) managed and marketed by State Street Global Advisors. For a few years, the fund was the second-largest exchange-traded fund in the world, and it was briefly the largest. As of the close of 2014, it has dropped out of the top ten.
This ETF denotes a share of gold bullion, which is unlike many ETFs which represent ownership in a basket of stocks. SPDR Gold Shares are designed to track the price of a tenth of an ounce of gold. If the share price differs from the gold market price, the fund's manager exchanges blocks of 100,000 shares for 10,000 ounces of gold. The possibility of such exchanges keeps the ETF price roughly in line with the gold price, although the prices can diverge during each day.
As of May 3, 2013, the trust had 34,260,271 ounces of vaulted gold in its custody, representing an asset value of $50,311,416,921. SPDR Gold Shares is one of the top ten largest holders of gold in the world.
In November of 2004, the fund was listed (under the name streetTRACKS Gold Shares) on the New York Stock Exchange by State Street Global Advisors with World Gold Council sponsorship. Since 13 December 2007 and following a name change on 20 May 2008, SPDR Gold Shares has traded on NYSE Arca (NYSE Arca: GLD). It also trades on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (SEHK: 2840), Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX:GLD 10US$), and Tokyo Stock Exchange (TYO: 1326).
The Trust’s gold bullion is stored as London Good Delivery gold bars (400 oz.) and held in their vault in London or by several custodians worldwide. The ETF pays an annual expense charge of 0.40% per annum. The ETF has been criticized by Catherine Austin Fitts and Carolyn Betts for its extremely complex structure and prospectus, possible conflict of interest in its relationships with HSBC and JPMorgan Chase which are believed to have large short positions in gold, and overall lack of transparency. Some critics compare the ETF with mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations. These problems with SPDR Gold Trust are not necessarily unique to the fund, however; as the dominant gold ETF, the fund has received the most extensive analysis.
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