Bloomberg reports on a Bundesbank announcement that only 37 tonnes of Germany’s gold reserves were repatriated in 2013, and only 5 tonnes of that came from the New York Fed. The official plan calls for 50 tonnes a year to be returned to the German central bank’s vaults in Frankfurt.
The Bundesbank had announced last year that it was repatriating all 374 tonnes of German gold held in Paris, and 300 tonnes of the 1500 tonnes it holds in New York, after pressure from the public and politicians in the matter. Bloomberg calculates that it would have to bring home 91 tonnes a year now to make the 2020 deadline it set itself.
German newspaper Die Welt asks “Why is this so difficult?” The New York Federal Reserve is supposed to be holding 1500 tonnes of Germany’s gold reserves, but refuses to let Bundesbank officials audit their own holdings. Germany, which holds the world’s second-largest gold reserves, had stored its gold in New York, Paris, and London during the Cold War due to fears of a Soviet invasion.
After the Bank of England sold most of its gold, Germany repatriated almost all its holdings in London, just to be on the safe side. It keeps most of its gold in New York, and a small amount in London, as collateral for foreign exchange transactions.
Since Germany and France both use the euro common currency, the 374 tonnes of German gold in Paris now has no function and will be brought home. Germany is also bringing home 300 tonnes of gold from New York, leaving 1200 tonnes there, to bring domestically-held gold reserves to 50%.
The president of the Bundesbank informed the press that some of last year’s 37 tonnes of repatriated gold had been remelted into London “Good Delivery” form, before arriving in Frankfurt, apparently referring to the 5 tonnes from the U.S. When asked why the gold was not delivered in its original form so that it could be checked against lists at the Bundesbank, he replied that Bundesbank officials were on-hand when the bars were removed from the New York Fed vaults, and checked the serial numbers against records. He said that the remelting and reassaying in America was the best guarantee of the gold’s authenticity and purity.
Germany is working with the Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, the so-called “central bank of the central banks,” to repatriate its gold. The nearly year-long delay in the first shipment was blamed on setting up the logistics and security of moving the gold. (and apparently setting up the resmelting in the U.S.) The Bundesbank said it expects to repatriate between 30 and 50 tonnes of gold total from Paris and New York in 2014.