BIS gold report hints at repatriation by central banks

Section:

By Robert Lambourne
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I have been checking on the changes that have taken place to the gold banking business carried out by the Bank for International Settlements since March 2009 and the bank's use of gold derivatives (essentially all are gold swaps), which have grown from zero as of March 31, 2009. All the data in the table below is sourced from BIS annual reports and from the bank's 2012 interim report published in early November. Here is a link to it:

http://www.bis.org/banking/safinstats120930.pdf

In March 2009 the BIS held gold sight accounts -- unallocated gold -- with a number of major central banks, presumably those based in traditional gold-trading markets. Apart from the bank's own gold, the source of the gold sight accounts arose from gold that was deposited in sight accounts with the BIS with all or most of it deposited with the BIS by other central banks. Historically and especially during World War II central banks used the BIS to act as an intermediary in the gold market to protect against their gold sight accounts being confiscated or blocked by the bank holding the gold deposit. So, as an example, during World War II the German central bank held gold in a BIS sight account that was in turn deposited by the BIS in London, and consequently this gold was not confiscated or blocked by the United Kingdom government in the war.

... Dispatch continues below ...



ADVERTISEMENT

Opinion Around the World Is Changing
in Favor of Gold -- Find Out Why

When Deutschebank calls gold "good money" and paper "bad money". ...

http://www.gata.org/node/11765

When the president of the German central bank, the Bundesbank, pays tribute to gold as "a timeless classic". ...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2012/09/24/signs-of-the-gold-stan...

When a leading member of the policy committee of the People's Bank of China calls the gold standard "an excellent monetary system". ...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2012/10/01/signs-of-the-gold-stan...

When a CNN reporter writes in The China Post that the "gold commission" plank in the 2012 Republican platform will "reverberate around the world". ...

http://www.thegoldstandardnow.org/key-blogs/1563-china-post-the-gop-gold...

When the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy of the U.S. House of Representatives twice called on economist, historian, and gold standard advocate Lewis E. Lehrman to testify. ...

World opinion is changing in favor of gold.

How can you learn why and what it will mean to you?

Read the newly updated and expanded edition of Lehrman's book, "The True Gold Standard."

Financial journalist James Grant says of "The True Gold Standard": "If you have ever wondered how the world can get from here to there -- from the chaos of depreciating paper to a convertible currency worthy of our children and our grandchildren -- wonder no more. The answer, brilliantly expounded, is between these covers. America has long needed a modern Alexander Hamilton. In Lewis E. Lehrman she has finally found him."

To buy a copy of "The True Gold Standard," please visit:

http://www.thegoldstandardnow.com/publications/the-true-gold-standard



Since March 2009 there has been a marked change in the source of the gold deposited by the BIS with central banks in gold sight accounts. It has fallen from 1,197.45 tonnes as of March 31, 2009, to 509.43 tonnes as of September 30, 2012. By March 2010 the BIS had sourced 346 tonnes of gold in the form of gold swaps -- something that had not been done for many years previously or at least not disclosed.

Yet in an article published in the Financial Times on July 29, 2010, Jaime Caruana, head of the BIS, said the swaps were "regular commercial activities" for the bank. As can be seen from the table below, gold derivatives, essentially all being gold swaps, have become a regular source of gold for the BIS to deposit in gold sight accounts since this interview was given.

The decline in the amount of gold deposited with the BIS in gold sight accounts by central banks accords with the often-claimed desire of many gold owners either to take physical possession of their gold or at least to move it into an allocated form of gold account such as a BIS gold-earmarked account, which is excluded from the BIS's own balance sheet.

Also, by their nature the gold swaps entered by the BIS provide the counterparty with a higher level of comfort. The counterparties for the BIS gold swap can presumably account for the gold as an owned asset, since the explanation of the gold swap in the BIS annual reports is very specific and says, "The Bank has an obligation to return the gold at the end of the contract." (So it would appear to meet the definition of allocated gold.)

Hence, if the BIS could not get returned to it all the gold it has deposited in sight accounts as of September 30, 2012, then it would run the risk of having to obtain up to 393 tonnes of gold on the open market to return to the gold swap counterparties. This risk is not specifically considered in the BIS's own commentary on the risks it faces.

In isolation this change in the mix of the sources of the BIS gold used in its gold banking business cannot be said to prove anything. But the reduction in the amount of gold deposited with the BIS in sight accounts is consistent with a desire by owners to exert greater control over their gold. Further, one could reasonably speculate whether gold swaps (and their increased proportion as a source of gold for the BIS gold banking business) have been used by the BIS to supply gold to avoid a default by a central bank when being asked to return the unallocated gold held in a sight account deposited with the BIS as the BIS has faced a reduction in that source of unallocated gold itself.

Whatever the truth may be, the changes in the table below are consistent with there being a tight physical market for gold where certain central banks are taking action to get a firmer grip on their metal.

* * *

Gold banking business of the Bank for International Settlements March 31, 2009, to 30th September 2012. Excludes BIS-owned gold.
.
.
Totals in millions of Special Drawing Rights.

....................... 3/2009 ..... 3/2010 ...... 3/2011 ....... 3/2012 ....... 9/2012

Third-party gold
deposited by BIS
in gold sight
accounts
....... 23,039.1 ... 40,219.9 ... 33,177.8 .... 31,881.7 ... 33,565.6

Gold deposited
in BIS gold sight
accounts
...... 23,039.1 ... 32,057 .... 21,264.3 ... 19,617.6 ... 18,948.3

Gold
derivatives
....... 0 ......... 8,162.9 ..... 11,913.5 .... 12,264.1 ... 14,617.3

Total gold
deposited in gold
sight accounts and
derivatives
.... 23,039.1 ... 40,219.9 .. 33,177.8 ... 31,881.7 ... 33,565.6
.
.
Tonnes

Third-party
gold deposited
by BIS in gold
sight accounts
.. 1,197.45 ..... 1,704.8 .... 1,139 ......... 923 ....... 902.43

Gold deposited
in BIS gold sight
accounts
.......... 1,197.45 ..... 1,358.8 ....... 730 ......... 568 ..... 509.43

Gold derivatives .. 0 ................ 346 .......... 409 ........ 355 ...... 393

Total third-party
gold deposited by
BIS in gold sight
accounts and gold
derivatives
..... 1,197.45 ...... 1,704.8 ...... 1,139 ....... 923 ...... 902.43

Gold earmarked accounts
.............................. 212 ............. 212 .......... 297 ........ 323 ........ N/A

Robert Lambourne is a British businessman and consultant to GATA.

* * *

Join GATA here:

Vancouver Resource Investment Conference
Sunday-Monday, January 20 and 21, 2013
Vancouver Convention Centre West
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
http://www.cambridgehouse.com/event/vancouver-resource-investment-confer...

* * *

Support GATA by purchasing DVDs of our London conference in August 2011 or our Dawson City conference in August 2006:

http://www.goldrush21.com/order.html

Or by purchasing a colorful GATA T-shirt:

http://gata.org/tshirts

Or a colorful poster of GATA's full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal on January 31, 2009:

http://gata.org/node/wallstreetjournal

Help keep GATA going

GATA is a civil rights and educational organization based in the United States and tax-exempt under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Its e-mail dispatches are free, and you can subscribe at:

http://www.gata.org

To contribute to GATA, please visit:

http://www.gata.org/node/16



ADVERTISEMENT

Fred Goldstein and Tim Murphy open All Pro Gold

Longtime GATA supporters Fred Goldstein and Tim Murphy have brought their many years of experience in the precious metals and numismatic coins to All Pro Gold as metals brokers who specialize in the delivery of gold and silver bullion bars and coins as well as numismatic gold and silver coins. Fred and Tim follow these markets closely and are assisted by a team of consultants in monitoring market trends. All Pro Gold offers GATA supporters competitive pricing on all bullion products and welcomes inquiries. Tim can be reached at 602-299-2585 and Tim@allprogold.com, Fred at 602-799-8378 and Fred@allprogold.com. Ask about their ratio strategy and the relationship of generic $20 dollar gold pieces to 1-ounce gold bullion coins. Visit their Internet site at http://www.allprogold.com/.