Central Bank Gold Agreement

By: Julian D. W. Phillips | Mon, Jun 23, 2008
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In the underlying principles of the Central Bank Gold Agreement lay the attitude of European Central Banks to gold. The agreements started as the Euro entered the foreign exchange markets for the first time. All Central Bank prefer paper money to gold because of the control it gives the bank over money.

Gold has a habit of undermining the credibility of paper money, as it reflects poor money management in falling values of the paper, as a result of this control. So it was almost incumbent on the European Central Banks to support the new Euro and to frown on the monetary role of gold [But not to frown on its value as a reserve asset]. This function can be supportive of a paper currency and a nation in times of crisis.

Once the Euro was established as an international and particularly European currency, there was no need to frown upon gold any more; in fact, it is clear that the secondary role of gold as a "reserve asset" should be supported.

The "Washington Agreement" was the first of the two gold sales agreements and lasted for 5 years. During that time gold recovered and looked robust, so it could be seen that the sales may have not done their work yet. But when the "Central Bank Gold Agreement" began for another 5 years, it was felt that the Euro still needed the 'support' of these sales.

Central Bank Gold Agreement 2004-2009

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
E.C.B. 235 47 57 60 42 29
Germany 12 5.4
[for coins]
[for coins]
[for coins]
France 600 115 134.8 115.1 55.6 179.5
Netherlands 165 55 67.5 14 23.3 5.2
Portugal 200 54.8 44.9 0   100.3
Switzerland 380 130 0 113 54.2 82.8
Austria 90 15 13.7 8.7   52.6
Sweden 60 15 10 10.0 4.0 21.0
Spain 0 30 62.5 149.3   ?
Belgium 0 30 0 0   ?
Not Identified   ?   0.5 26.95 ?
Total Sales 1730 497.2 395.7 475.7 206.8 454.95
Russia 0 0 0 22 34.8  
Greece [Coins] 0 0 0 3.8 [?] 0.8?  
Total Purchases 0 0 0 25.8 ?  

Then the management of the $ became questionable regarding its role as the world's reserve currency and the position of the Euro as an alternative to the US$ came into view. During the last few years the Euro has climbed against the $ and gained a strong reputation as a global currency. It provides the means of exchange for over 400 million Europeans in their daily lives. It is designed to monetarily unite a set of diverse economies that Europe has been for well over a couple of thousand years. It has done a remarkable job to date.

So there is little need for gold sales now.

It is the best performing asset in their reserves? As the global economy has dark clouds forming above it, the times when gold comes into its own on an international front approach again. Now is the time to retain gold.

Hence, the total gold sales of the entire number of signatories to the Central Bank Gold Agreement have declined to a trickle of around 0 and 2 tonnes a week, which the market barely notices.

I.M.F. Gold sales
If European Central Bank selling does dwindle to a halt well before the end of the five year agreement then the role of gold in the monetary system would be well confirmed and gold's value as a retainer of value would have been re-established, which it should be. However, the Central Bank Gold Agreement would stand in tatters and would have confirmed that Central Banks wanted to keep the gold they have. This would most certainly encourage other private or institutional investors to acquire gold.

Then along came the I.M.F. this mentor of global finance with its own Balance Sheet in a mess. The gold it had 'acquired' from Brazil and Mexico, [last century] was still under the control of its board and not in the possession of a single [or pair] of nations anymore. This made it easier for the members to agree to sell it. It is important to emphasize this point: they want to sell this gold to shore up their own finances, not for any paper money support. The sales, if the U.S. Congress approves them, have no monetary or anti- gold reason behind them. They are to bail out an institution in trouble, that's all.

However, so as not to cause a ripple on the gold market waters, they have already stated that they will work under the Central Bank Gold Agreement confines. We assume they will work in the same way and under the same 'ceiling'. We understand this to mean that they, alongside any signatory sales, will not go above the 500-tonne 'ceiling'. The reality seems even less threatening than that, as they talk of the sales being conducted over several years. This means to us that they will occur at such a low level that they will not even send a ripple over the gold price itself.

We certainly don't believe that there is any collusion between the I.M.F. and the signatories of the Central Bank Gold Agreement over gold sales.

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Julian  D. W. Phillips

Author: Julian D. W. Phillips

Julian D. W. Phillips
Gold Forecaster

Julian D. W. Phillips

"Global Watch: The Gold Forecaster" covers the global gold market. It specializes in Central Bank Sales and details, the Indian Bullion market [supported by a leading Indian Bullion professional], the South African markets [+ Gold shares shares] plus the currencies of gold producers [ Euro, U.S. $, Yen, C$, A$, and the South African Rand]. Its aim is to synthesise all the influential gold price factors across the globe, so as to truly understand the global reasons behind the gold price.

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