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LAWRIE WILLIAMS: World Gold Reserve Changes Year To Date

The World Gold Council has published the latest figures to end-September of the World’s national gold reserves.  To see the global tabulation click on www.gold.org/statistics to download the latest full table.  While most countries’ officially reported gold reserve figures remain unchanged – and for the most part have been so for some years – what tends to be most interesting in the light of Central Bank gold purchases and sales are for those countries which actually report these sales and purchases to the IMF.  The total figures do have to be seen in the context that they may not be fully up to date as some countries may be late in reporting changes – and some may neglect to report them altogether as did China for the six year up until June 2015 when it announced an addition of 604.3 tonnes to its reserves reported to the IMF.

In the table below we have abstracted the year to date gold reserve change data only for those countries announcing net changes over the period of 1 tonne or more.  The remainder largely balance each other out with small pluses and minuses on a month to month basis – and overall there are relatively few nations reporting any changes at all to national reserves.  But some of those which do report them have made some significant changes in the nine months of the year to date.

Table of monthly changes to national gold reserves - Significant ytd changes only

Country

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

Jul

Aug

Sept

Net Total

Belarus

-1

3

2.5

-3

1.5

China*

604.3

19

16.2

14.9

654.4

El Salvador

-5.4

   

-5.4

Germany

-0.8

-2.4

     

-3.2

Jordan

3.4

8.1

2.5

0.9

7.5

 

22.4

Kazakhstan

1.7

2.7

2.3

2.4

2.6

2.3

2.5

2.1

3.2

21.8

Malaysia

0.6

0.6

0.3

0.6

 

2.1

Mauritius

1

     

1

Mongolia

-1

-0.1

 

-0.3

 

0.7

1.0

-0.9

-0.6

-1.2

Russia

-0.5

30.5

8.3

4.3

24.1

13.1

29.6

34.5

143.9

Turkey**

-14.2

-4.6

2.7

-6.5

-1.9

-4.8

17.2

0.6

 -13.2

-24.7

Ukraine

0.3

2.2

0.9

3.4

UAE

2.6

-0.1

2.4

0.1

0.1

5.1

Source: World Gold Council, IMF

*China figure includes big gold reserve accumulation reported in July, but applicable to an unreported reserve build-up over the previous 6 years.

** Turkey’s reserve figures are somewhat anomalous as they include holding held in the country’s commercial banking system and are thus prone to be far more volatile on a month-by-month basis.

The standouts in the above table of course are China and Russia.  The former with its big June reserve update announcement and its subsequent month by month reporting of comparatively small additional accumulations.  However in terms of relativity Jordan is an interesting case in that it has increased its gold reserves in five of the past nine months, with the 22.4 tonne overall increase meaning it has more than doubled its gold reserves, which now stand at 41.7 tonnes, so far this year.  Kazakhstan, very much in the Russian zone of influence, has also been a very consistent gold buyer, taking in 21.8 tonnes so far this year to bring its total holding to 213.5 tonnes.

It will be interesting to see how the mainstream analysts treat China’s big June reserve increase announcement when, at the end of the year they pontificate on the level of Central Bank purchases.  Will they treat this as a single purchase, all going into their 2015 figures, or perhaps average the amount over the past six years to a little over 100 tonnes annually?  Maybe they’ll look at the now-announced month by month purchases and extrapolate these backwards to January assuming the nation is buying around 15 tonnes a month.  If we assume the latter, and perhaps strip out the anomalous Turkish figures, we have a Central Bank overall purchase figure of around 330 tonnes for the first three quarters of the year, suggesting a full year total of around 440 tonnes.

However, China is probably the key as to whether this is an accurate assessment or not.  No-one is sure, on its past record, whether either its overall figure for its gold holdings is in any way reliable and whether it is still accumulating additional amounts of gold and putting it into non-reportable (as it sees it)accounts or even whether its monthly increases are in any way accurate.  But then the same could apply to other nations either not reporting purchases at all (Saudi Arabia has been guilty of this in the past) – or conversely not reporting sales in order to maintain more confidence in its reserves than may actually be the case.

Whether the officially reported statistics present a true picture or not thus remains a moot point, but the propensities of governments to manipulate reported figures to their own political advantage are legion.  The World Gold Council/IMF figures are thus the best we have available to us.  

04 Nov 2015 | Categories: Gold

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