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Central Banks Buying Gold "Firmly" in 2014

Countries "not aligned" with US views likely to track Russia, buy gold...
 
GOLD BUYING by central banks has continued ahead of recent averages in 2014, according to several analysts' notes.
 
"Central banks remained firmly on the buy-side of the gold market" in the first half of the year, writes Macquarie Bank analyst Matthew Turner in London.
 
Based on official gold bullion reserves as reported to the International Monetary Fund, Turner notes that his net figure of 113 tonnes for central bank gold-buying in H1 does not account for a 14-tonne drop in Ecuador's holdings – withdrawn as part of a Dollars for gold swap with US investment bank Goldman Sachs, and set to be unwound with the gold bars returned in two years' time.
 
"The Ecuador-Goldman Sachs deal," agrees another London-based analyst, "simply reiterates that gold is a highly liquid asset that can readily be converted into cash." A similar deal with the same bank was last year begun but dropped by the socialist government of Venezuela, which under the late Hugo Chavez withdrew its gold bullion reserves from London's international trading center in what commentators called an attempt to "guard against" US seizure or interference with the Latin American state's assets overseas.
 
According to IMF data, Moscow's gold buying in 2014 rose from 5 tonnes in the first 3 months of 2014 to 55 tonnes between April and June, when the Ukraine crisis intensified after Russia's annexation of Crimea in March. "Given Russia's FX reserves have fallen," says Turner, that "might reflect a preference for gold over government bonds in the current political environment."
 
Also noting the increase in Russia's gold reserves, "We would expect a range of countries who are not aligned with the USA to see ever greater attraction in holding gold as a reserve asset," writes Mitsui analyst David Jollie, pointing to "indications" in reporting data which suggest Moscow may have reduced its holdings of US Treasury debt. 
 
Even though the US Dollar remains the No.1 central-bank reserve currency, "Any country that might come into political disagreement with the USA might have some fears that it might not be able to use its Dollar reserves," says Jollie. "And such a country might also have little desire to fund the US Government's budget deficit too by owning US Treasuries."
 
The largest foreign holder of US Treasury bonds, China has not updated the world on its bullion reserves since 2009, when it revised its reported holdings 75% higher to 1,054 tonnes. Beijing is widely suspected of buying gold since then, with unreported central bank purchases explaining a gap between China's private-sector demand and visible supply.
 
"China's nearly $4 trillion in [foreign currency] reserves," wrote British MP Kwasi Kwarteng – author of new book War and Gold: A Five-Hundred-Year History of Empires, Adventures and Debt – last month in the New York Times, "give it plenty of ammunition to claim leadership in the creation of a new monetary order."
 
Kwarteng suggests Beijing may be buying gold to prepare for a bullion-backed Yuan – "not in the immediate future...[but] in, say, 20 years."

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