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A reporter actually gets it: IMF gold will never hit market
G20 Supports IMF's Plan to Sell 403 Tons of Gold
By Moming Zhou
Thursday, April 2, 2009
NEW YORK -- Leaders from the Group of 20 nations Thursday endorsed the International Monetary Fund's plan to sell 403 tons of gold to raise funds to support the world's poorest countries.
The announcement from G20 leaders helped add pressures to Thursday's gold trading. Gold futures fell $20.30, or 2.2%, to $905.80 an ounce in recent trading on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The G20 vowed in its statement to "use the additional resources from agreed IMF gold sales for concessional finance for the poorest countries."
The endorsement suggests that the IMF's gold sales plan is likely to be approved by its member countries later this year.
The IMF has been planning to sell gold since as early as 2007 to diversify its revenues and strengthen its balance sheet. But the plan needs to be approved by an 85% majority vote from its 185 members.
The U.S., which has 17% voting power in the fund, essentially holds veto power. The U.S. government has informed the IMF that congressional authorization by law is required before it is able to support the plan.
The U.S. Treasury announced last year that it will seek authority from Congress.
Hussein Allidina, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a note Thursday that he expects the IMF to implement the sales over the next few years but does "not believe that this presents a strong negative risk to gold prices -- as it will be 'orderly' and maybe even off-market."
The US administration has seemed supportive, both for expanding the IMF's role as well as helping its long-term funding challenges. This makes the proposed IMF gold sales much more likely, as the US Congress effectively has a veto on this decision, with the US having a 17% vote on an IMF decision that needs 85% to pass.
The IMF, which holds more than 3,200 tons of gold, is the third-largest holder in the world after the U.S. and Germany.
Most of the IMF's gold holdings come from the fund's member countries, which are required to commit 25% of their quota in gold. The fund can't sell those holdings into the markets.
But an additional 403.3 tons of gold the fund acquired through off-market transactions in 1999 and 2000 -- such as interest payments from countries that received IMF loans -- are not subject to the restriction.
If member countries approved the gold sales, the IMF can find ready buyers in countries with low gold reserves, especially Russia and some Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, and India.
China, with less than 1% of its $2 trillion reserves held in gold, has expressed interest in buying more gold, crude oil, and other strategic commodities.
According to the IMF's plan, the gold selling will be implemented in coordination with major central banks to minimize the impact on the market.
The European Central Bank said Wednesday it had completed the sale of 35.5 tons of gold.
The gold sales were in full conformity with the second Central Banks Gold Agreement, which was signed in 2004 by the ECB and other European major official gold holders.
The second CBGA, which caps total gold sales of the signatories at 500 tons a year, expires in September.
Some analysts expect a third CBGA to be signed before September.
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