The release of Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s December gold stocks report provides and opportunity to analyse the progress of this current phase of withdrawals from its custodial stocks. I say “phase” because in recent times there have been periods of concentrated withdrawal activity in between periods of little or no activity, as the chart below from Nick Laird at Sharelynx shows.
It is interesting that these phase seem to correspond with economic turmoil – dot.com crash 2000/1, global financial crisis 2007/8, and today?
Note that during 2000 and 2001 the FRBNY was able to consistently ship out 40 tonnes a month. That works out at 2 tonnes a day over 20 business days a month. Commercial vaults designed for high throughput can do more than that but if you look at this National Geographic documentary on the Federal Reserve you can see it is not suited to high volumes. As I explained in this post, “those who think Germany could put 300 tonnes in a big plane or warship and move it in one or a few days have been watching too many Die Hard movies”. In any case, Germany’s 300 tonnes could therefore have been realistically repatriated in one year.
During 2014 and 2015 we know that Germany repatriated just under 190 tonnes and the Netherlands around 123 tonnes. Given the reported net withdrawals from the FRBNY (back calculated as they only report balance in millions of dollars @ $42.22, I calculate the following delivery schedule.
All figures represent withdrawals, except the one highlighted in yellow, which is a deposit. Note that every figure in this table is a multiple of either a 4.420 tonne or 5.157 tonne “lot”, eg 41.991 = (4.420 x 6 + 5.157 x 3). I have tried a number of possibilities but the above is the only realistic one I can find that fits the reported facts in the lot multiples. Out of this comes two observations:
- Another central bank(s) have been withdrawing metal from the FRBNY but not disclosing it, close to 40 tonnes to-date.
- Someone deposited 41.991 tonnes just as the Netherlands was about to withdraw 123 tonnes.
As the FRBNY is reporting physical custodial stocks, the only explanation for the deposit is either another central bank deposited physical, or the FRBNY moved some of its (ie America’s) gold reserves into the account of another central bank, which could be the result of:
- A new FRBNY lease/swap TO a central bank
- FRBNY repaying gold leased/swapped FROM a central bank in the past
Given how tight-lipped central bankers generally are, we are unlikely to know who the mystery (and coincidental) gold depositor was.