An official announcement last week that the Bundesbank had pretty much repatriated half its gold reserves ahead of schedule has once again sent the rumour mill into overdrive.
Fans of the precious metal – not shy of a good conspiracy theory – have been deliberating over the move ever since Germany detailed it back in 2013. Initially, there was a sense that trust between central banks had broken down, with claims that Berlin was effectively questioning the credentials of the New York Federal Reserve.
But the talk has now stepped up a notch with the Bundesbank confirming Thursday that it has already moved 583 tonnes of gold out of New York and Paris. Its plan to hold half its gold in Frankfurt is now three years ahead of schedule.
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Reporting the news, Reuters said that some argue the world’s second-biggest bullion reserve “may be needed to back a new deutsche mark, should the Eurozone break up.”
This seems pretty far-fetched, especially given that the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates ended back in the 1970s. Could Berlin really be prepping for the fall of the euro?
Then there’s the Donald Trump angle. On Thursday, Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele felt the need to speak about the new US President at his press conference – presumably because someone asked him.
“Trump has not triggered a discussion about the storage facility in New York,” he said, according to reports. Trump scaring global central banks to repatriate their gold in case he confiscates it? Sounds equally unbelievable.
Then there’s the rumours coming from Russia. Sputnik News, which incidentally has strongly denied accusations from Nato that it’s a Kremlin propaganda machine, reported that Germany had been given the wrong gold.
Quoting Russian economist Vladimir Katasonov, the news site said the US may have sold Germany’s gold bars years ago and hurriedly bought some back as the Bundesbank came knocking.
It seems when something major happens in the gold market, there’s a conspiracy theory not far behind. The official line is a little dull in comparison with the Bundesbank saying the new storage plan is “to build trust and confidence domestically”.
In 2015, it even released a 2,300-page list of its gold bars. The document contained the bar numbers, melt or inventory numbers, the gross weight as well as the fineness of the gold. It appears it’s a tough job placating the demands of the gold bugs.