America’s Gold Crisis: Why are countries increasingly withdrawing their U.S-held reserves?

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For decades, many countries have stored their gold reserves in the United States. But the situation is changing. Last year several countries, including Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands, have withdrawn their gold stored in the US and other states are considering the same idea.

Natalia Dembinskaya revealed that a decade ago some 60 countries had their gold reserves in the United States, mainly to ensure the security of their reserves in the event of a war and to increase liquidity, because the largest gold deals are held on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).

Saving gold in the US allowed reducing transportation costs, which are very high in the case of precious metals because of expensive insurance, and the United States decided to pay these costs only in an exceptional economic or political situation. The fact that in 2018 Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands withdrew their gold stored in the US and that Italy is considering this measure means that this situation could be coming.

In addition, in recent times they have been raising doubts about whether the US keeps gold from other countries properly.

According to the US Treasury Department, the US continues to hold 261 million ounces of gold. However, the last time the audit of these reservations was made was in the 1960s. After that, all attempts to conduct a new inspection were blocked by Congress, said Dembinskaya.

There are those who suppose that Americans use foreign gold in their own interests: they rent it to the banks that operate with it in the merchant to control the price of the precious metal.

“That raises a question: is Washington ready to return any gold that does not belong to the US at any time. To take the risk, more and more countries withdraw their gold,” the analyst explained.

The wave of withdrawals began in 2012, when Venezuela decided to withdraw from the US all 160 tonnes of its gold worth nine billion dollars. At that time, President Hugo Chavez stated that it is necessary to return the ingots to Venezuela so as not to become hostages and in a medium of pressure from Washington. This prediction of the Venezuelan president came true in 2018: the Bank of England refused to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a request to hand over $1.2 billion in gold bars.

In 2014 the Central Bank of the Netherlands withdrew 20% of its gold reserves from New York (at that time 50% of the Dutch reserves were held in the US), arguing that saving half of the gold reserves in the same place is imprudent and inadequate. However, analysts are right: the country continues to withdraw its US-based gold so as not to depend on the unpredictable actions of US President Donald Trump.

The Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, also launched a program to withdraw its US gold in 2012. In addition, in April 2018, Turkey withdrew 27.8 tonnes of its gold stored in the US.

According to Dembinskaya, the reasons for reflux of foreign gold from US savings accounts are evident: the increase in US interest rates, the pressure against the euro and other currencies, the increase in geopolitical risks and the commercial wars triggered by Washington.

Amidst this, the global economy is trying to reduce its dependence on the US dollar and bets on gold are a safe asset, and no longer relies on the US: Washington, which uses financial pressure more and more often, could simply freeze assets of “undesirable” countries to the US.

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