Some time ago, I wrote a request related to the German gold reserve in the U.S. both to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington DC and the NY Fed. Unfortunately, both agencies prefered to answer it with “The Sound of Silence.“
Von Lars Schall
On March 16, I wrote to the Press Secretary of the Federal Reserve in Washington DC, Michelle A. Smith (email@example.com), and the Press Office of the NY Fed (firstname.lastname@example.org) the following request:
Dear Ms. Smith, dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
My name is Lars Schall and I am a freelance journalist for finance from Germany. I would like to ask you some questions with regards to the German gold reserve at the NY Fed and a specific question of which I assume that also the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington DC is a part of. Since I work related to that topic together with Chris Powell from the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, GATA, the U.S. journalist Max Keiser, and the Senior Managing Director for Market Intelligence at Omnis, Inc., James G. Rickards, could you send your response to those email-addresses as well, please:
Chris Powell: email@example.com
Max Keiser: firstname.lastname@example.org
James G. Rickards: email@example.com
Here’s the background: At the end of last year, I wrote a request to the German Bundesbank (that received the number 2010/020273), in which I have asked among other things:
„Does the Bundesbank has gold swap arrangements with the United States / Federal Reserve?“
I received more or less a standard response from the German Bundesbank:
„The Deutsche Bundesbank keeps a large part of its gold holdings in its own vaults in Germany, while some of its gold is also stored with the central banks located at major gold trading centres. This has historical and market-related reasons, the gold having been transferred to the Bundesbank at these trading centres.
The Bundesbank applies the principles of safety, cost efficiency and liquidity to the management of foreign reserves in general, and to that of gold reserves. Generally, changing depositories cannot be ruled out in this respect.
In managing foreign reserves, the Bundesbank fulfils one of its mandated tasks as an integral part of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB). We trust you will understand that we are not able to divulge any further information regarding this activity. Particularly with respect to the confidential nature of information about where gold holdings are kept, we are unable to go into any greater detail concerning exact locations and the quantities stored at each of these. Likewise, owing to the strategic nature of the activity, we are not at liberty to provide you with more detailed information about gold transactions.“
To make a rather long story short: all in all the Bundesbank wasn’t really cooperative. Therefore, I hope you can demonstrate a bit more transparency.
I have the following questions for you:
1) Does the Bundesbank has gold swap arrangements with the United States / Federal Reserve respectively does the U.S. / Federal Reserve has gold swap arrangements with the Bundesbank?
2) Given the response of the Bundesbank cited above, Chris Powell made the comment: „The Bundesbank refuses to say whether it has engaged in gold swaps and why. It’s as good as a confirmation.“ Could you comment on this as far as your entity is concerned?
3) Do you have an idea what „strategic nature of the activity“ means respectively what it means when the Bundesbank wrote to GATA consultant Rob Kirby: Germany keeps much of its gold at „gold trading centers“ abroad „in order to conduct its gold activities“ (see: http://www.gata.org/node/7713)? What are you in that case at the NY Fed exactly doing with the German gold?
4) In the past the Bundesbank stated with regards to the German gold reserve abroad „that transportation to Germany and safekeeping in the Bundesbank’s own vaults would entail high costs.“ Can you give me an estimation of the costs of safekeeping the German gold in the vaults of the NY Fed, please? (I would like to figure out why it costs less to keep it safe in the U.S. / NYC than in Frankfurt and/or Mainz.)
5) According to Dimitri Speck’s German written book „Die Geheime Goldpolitik“ (published at the Finanzbuch Verlag in Munich, 2010 – see: http://www.gata.org/node/9349), the amount of the part of the German gold reserve (total 3.446 tonnes) that is located in the United States / NY Fed is 66%. Can you confirm that?
6) In case the Bundesbank would order the German gold reserve that is located in the United States to Frankfurt: would there be any insurmountable problems involved from your side?
I am optimistic that some clear answers related to the questions above could put long lasting rumours and irritations to rest. By the way: together with Dimitri Speck and Professor James K. Galbraith I’ve put some rumours and irritations with regard to the German gold reserve / Federal Reserve recently indeed to rest:
Thank you very much for your attention!
I received then a few hours later from the NY Fed this message:
“Thank you for contacting the New York Fed. We will respond to your e-mail as soon as possible. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.newyorkfed.org./.“
But ever since then all I have received was this “Sound of Silence“ from the Fed.