Which Country Has the Most Gold Reserves?
Gold has long been seen as an invaluable way of safeguarding wealth during times of economic instability and upheaval, but which country holds the greatest supply?
Note that while the International Monetary Fund does not fall under national classification, it nonetheless boasts second highest gold reserves among all countries worldwide. Please see below for details of top 10 nations possessing the most gold reserves.
Though no longer operating under a strict gold standard, the US still maintains vast stocks of bullion to safeguard against hyperinflation or any other economic disasters. Most of this gold is held in deep storage at Fort Knox in Kentucky; West Point in New York; and Denver Mint.
Gold reserves in Switzerland are three times greater than those in Germany and two-three times greater than those held by Italy and France combined, and are expected to increase even further as central banks make purchases for future use.
Germany has an expansive gold market, involving banks, precious metal wholesalers, and numerous bullion dealers that supply physical investment gold to individual customers. According to research from Reisebank, German adults own an astounding total of 8918 tonnes.
China and India often dominate discussions regarding gold demand and holdings, yet Germany also plays an integral part. Recently, the Bundesbank moved some of their reserves from New York and Paris back to Frankfurt for safekeeping.
Italy has only recently begun building up its gold reserves, having only begun doing so thirty years after unification. Most of this metal is held outside Italy – including 1,200 tonnes held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York alone.
Italy’s co-ruling League party recently proposed a bill that would make clear that gold reserves belong to the state rather than Bank of Italy and could prompt some sales of reserves by Italy.
France offers an excellent environment to store gold bullion safely. With low or no taxes and minimal bureaucracy surrounding import and export transactions of precious metals, France stands out as a potential safe haven.
At a Banque de France presentation at the LBMA conference in 2013, 91% of their gold holdings were stored in Paris with only 9% being located outside. Furthermore, custodial storage services are provided on behalf of foreign central banks for additional holdings of gold at Banque de France.
Russia’s gold holdings provide it with an essential cushion against Western sanctions. Monetary gold kept in state vaults cannot be taken over by foreign adversaries short of military invasion, while it can also be moved physically bypassing digital financial networks.
Similarly, should Russia face further sanction pressure, Putin could follow Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro’s example by selling some gold on shadow markets in order to raise cash euros and resupply troops and facilitate import purchases – mitigating costs associated with Western sanctions in the process.
China’s refusal to disclose its gold reserves suggests it holds more than the officially reported 2,010 tonnes. It’s possible that the People’s Bank of China has been purchasing gold on international wholesale markets through Chinese commercial banks like ICBC and Bank of China as well as Swiss refineries like Rand Refinery.
Knowledge of covert purchases made by the People’s Bank of China since the early 1990s combined with cumulative gold production and imports indicates that China holds over 13,500 tonnes in reserves.
India holds gold reserves as an effective way of strengthening their currency and fighting inflation, so all economies try to stockpile as much gold as they possibly can.
According to a recent study, household gold stocks in India may have reached 24,000-25,000 tonnes – making India one of the biggest holders worldwide.
Additionally, over time the country’s central bank has purchased substantial quantities of gold which has helped expand their foreign reserves and strengthen the nation’s foreign reserves.
Japan has long been an essential source of gold. Additionally, Japan boasts an expansive history of minting collectable coins – some very rare specimens even exist!
Countries purchase gold to diversify their forex reserves, and it typically forms part of most reserve funds. When economies experience economic upheaval or instability – like during the coronavirus pandemic – many nations turn to their reserves as an economic protection blanket.
Switzerland is the global center for gold refining. Gold comes from all around the globe to this small nation for refining before it is exported back out again.
Swiss citizens have an affinity for gold; their currency was explicitly backed by it until 2000 and every citizen owns 128 grams. Soon, an initiative proposing tripling of national reserves will go to vote.