Say what you want about gold – central banks just can’t get enough of the yellow metal.
For the third quarter of 2015, central banks continued to bulk up their gold reserves, adding 175 tonnes to official reserves, according to the World Gold Council.
Although this is a 3% drop year-over-year, it’s important to note that 2014’s Q3 numbers were at a record high of 179.5 tonnes. (So another way of looking at it is that 2015 almost equaled the record amount.)
Total net purchases for the first nine months of the year amounted to 425.8 tonnes. Russia remained the most significant purchaser this year. But China stole the show when, after years of silence, they decided to start reporting changes to their reserves more regularly.
Using the WGC’s data, we put together a list of the biggest gold hoarders out there. Check them out below.
Official gold holdings: 557.7 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 5.6%
India and China are the world’s largest gold consumers. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he wanted to “tap the stockpiles of the precious metal to trim physical demand and reduce imports by providing people with alternative avenues for investment,” according to Bloomberg.
Official gold holdings: 612.5 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 55.8%
In late 2014, the Dutch central bank announced that it was repatriating a chunk of its gold reserves from the US, hoping the measure would have “a positive effect on public confidence,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Official gold holdings: 765.2 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 2.2%
Japan’s gold reserves were at just 6 tonnes in 1950, and its central bank registered its first serious jump in gold holdings in 1959, with purchases increasing by 169 tonnes from the previous year.
In 2011, the Bank of Japan sold gold to pump ¥20 trillion into the economy to calm investors after the tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Official gold holdings: 1,040.0 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 6.2%
In November 2014, Swiss voters rejected a referendum that would have forced the central bank to boost its gold reserves to 20%.
Official gold holdings: 1352.2 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 13.1%
“Russia once again led the pack, expanding its gold reserves by 77.2t in the third quarter. Russia remains the most significant purchaser of gold in 2015, with reported year-to-date net purchases of 144t,” according to the WGC report.
Official gold holdings: 1,708.5 tonnes
“The most notable purchaser in the third quarter was China, who, after six years of silence, has begun reporting changes to their gold reserves with more regularity. In the three months to September, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) added 50.1t to its burgeoning gold reserves. Despite gold reserves standing at 1,708.5t at the end of the quarter, this still represents less than 2% of total reserves,” according to the WGC report.
Official gold holdings: 2,435.5 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 62.1%
Back in November 2014, French right-wing leader Marine Le Pen wrote that she wanted French gold back in France, and suggested that the central bank buy more gold reserves, according to Forbes.
Official gold holdings: 2,451.0 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 65.0%
In 2013, the Italian central bank argued that gold reserves were key to independence.
“… historic … and psychological reasons, stand in favor of gold’s importance as a component of central bank reserves,” director general of the bank, Salvatore Rossi, said. “Gold underpins the independence of central banks in their ability to (act) as the ultimate bearer of domestic financial stability.”
Official gold holdings: 3,381.0 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 67.1%
In 2013, Germany’s Bundesbank announced plans to repatriate its gold reserves that were stored in the US and French central banks. By 2020, it plans to hold half of its gold holdings in Frankfurt, according to Reuters.
1. United States
Official gold holdings: 8133.5 tonnes
Percent of foreign reserves in gold: 72.7%
The US had its largest gold reserves in volume terms back in 1952, when it held 20,663 tonnes. By 1968, holding fell below 10,000 for the first time.
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