Germany wants to see its US gold reserves

Der Spiegel has an article about how German politicians are getting anxious about their gold reserves held by the Federal Reserve:

This demand, which even the bank’s inspectors saw as nothing more than routine, alarmed the Berlin political establishment. Indeed, the partially blacked-out report read like the prologue to an espionage thriller in which the stunned central bankers could end up standing in front of empty vaults in the US.

For decades, German central bankers have contented themselves with written affirmations from their American colleagues that the gold still remains where it is said to be stored. According to the report, the bar list from New York stems from “1979/1980.” The report also noted that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York refuses to allow the gold’s owners to view their own reserves.

Not surprisingly, this prompted strong reactions in Berlin: The relevant Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele was summoned to Berlin to provide an explanation to the parliamentary budget committee. Heinz-Peter Haustein of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) was even quoted by Germany’s mass-circulation Bild newspaper as saying that “all the gold has to be shipped back.”

[...] Such intense secrecy fuels legends. Many conspiracy theorists have suspected for decades that the German gold has long since disappeared. Others believe that it has been lent out. They contend that there are only promissory notes of little worth stored in the bank’s vaults.

Another myth that has been making the rounds in nationalist-oriented German circles is that the US refused to hand over the treasure and threatened during the Cold War to withdraw its troops from Germany if the Germans demanded their gold back. Former Bundesbank head Karl Blessing, according to the theory, had to provide the US written confirmation that he would never do such a thing.

This letter, as it happens, actually exists, as Blessing confirmed in his last interview with SPIEGEL in 1971 — except it doesn’t concern the German gold, but rather US gold reserves.

For decades Ron Paul has been the canary in the coal mine on auditing the Federal Reserve, something that hasn’t been assuaged by a September 2010 report claiming all the gold is accounted for:

In September, Treasury completed its latest audit, showing that U.S. gold reserves total 9,300 tons with a market value of $320 billion, Thorson said. The recent run-up in gold prices — the precious metal is trading at about $1,515 an ounce — puts the market value at $340 billion as of Wednesday, according to Thorson’s testimony. He added that each gold bar weighs about 27 pounds and is worth around $500,000.

Paul said that his questions were partly in response to the numerous Internet conspiracy theories, including those that accuse the government of secretly selling all of the gold in Fort Knox.

Thorson said Treasury doesn’t believe that anyone, including the Fed, has taken the gold or laid claim to U.S. gold bars. Any further audit as proposed by Paul’s legislation would be redundant, he said.

“There is no movement. There is nothing there that can happen, once those doors are sealed,” Thorson said. “It’s very obvious if those seals are ever broken.”

William Lacy Clay, a Democratic representative from Missouri, said that doing a complete audit as Paul is calling for is a waste of federal manpower and could cost tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Thorson reported that the U.S. Mint told him that moving, counting and testing the gold would cost around $60 million. Paul said he had heard from Treasury that it would only cost $15 million.

The Federal Reserve will certainly try to curtail the increasingly international demand for an audit, but the demands to “show us our gold” are growing louder with each hit the global economy takes.

posted by JEDECKERT · tags: , , , , , ,

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