Back in November, German politicians were grumbling that they wanted to see their gold deposits being held at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
Now, they’ve upped the ante and are beginning to cash out, demanding shipment of 300 of their 1,536 tons of gold held in the U.S.:
In what sounds like the setup for a stylish Hollywood heist movie, Germany is transferring nearly 700 tons of gold bars worth $36 billion from Paris and New York to its vaults in Frankfurt.
The move is part of an effort by Germany’s central bank to bring much of its gold home after keeping big reserves outside the country for safekeeping during the Cold War.
Shipping such a large amount of valuable cargo between countries could be a serious security headache. A gold robbery — the subject of such movies as Die Hard 3 and The Italian Job — would be embarrassing and expensive for Germany.
The high-stakes, high-security plan is to move the precious metal — 374 tons kept in vaults in Paris and 300 tons stored at the New York Federal Reserve Bank — to the Bundesbank in Germany’s financial center over the next eight years.
The speed at which the German central bank’s transition from an audit to actaully moving gold has been rather swift. As they are now in negotiations Lufthansa Cargo to move the 300 tons of gold across the Atlantic, they’ve allowed themselves until 2020 to complete the process of being able to store half their gold reserves in the Heimatland (homeland).
By 2020, the Bundesbank intends to store half of Germany’s gold reserves in its own vaults in Germany. The other half will remain in storage at its partner central banks in New York and London. With this new storage plan, the Bundesbank is focusing on the two primary functions of the gold reserves: to build trust and confidence domestically, and the ability to exchange gold for foreign currencies at gold trading centres abroad within a short space of time.
Interestingly enough, stashed away in the extended Bundesbank press release was an interesting nugget (translated from German):
Function of Gold – Why do Central Banks hold Gold?
– Universal Acceptance
– Resilience to Shocks (State or currency risks)
This money-like exchange of gold for foreign currencies will likely embolden critics of Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. Bernanke, who was queried by Ron Paul in a 2011 Congressional Committee famously folded on the issue, stated that gold wasn’t actually money, rather “it’s tradition. Long term tradition.”
In Germany, that tradition is alive and well, and demanding the Federal Reserve hand it over.