Ted Truman is getting tired of transparency with me real fast

Edwin M. Truman, who calls for transparency regarding gold swap and lease arrangements among central banks, has engaged enough on this topic with me. And then there’s a message from the NY Fed related to the repatriation of some German gold from NYC to Frankfurt. It can’t discuss the issue due to „contractual confidentiality requirements.

By Lars Schall

Related to this and this I have contacted Mr. Edwin M. Truman again. Moreover, I did show him a media request that I sent yesterday to the press departments of the NY Fed, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington DC, and of the Deutsche Bundesbank.

I wrote:

Dear Mr. Truman,

I don’t want to become annoying, but since you have called for more transparency related to gold swap and lease arrangements, it might be interesting for you to see that I try – by far not for the first time, see the link below (An Exercise in Futility) – to ask for a little bit more of exactly that: transparency.

Best regards,

Lars Schall.

Then I showed him the mentioned request, which went in general to this email-address: general.info@ny.frb.org.

It said:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
my name is Lars Schall, I am a freelance journalist for finance from Germany. After following the recent news related to the repatriation of some German gold from the NY Fed to the Bundesbank in Frankfurt, I have one question:

Why do the involved parties need 7 years to repatriate the portion of roughly 300 tonnes of gold? Some people argue that the planned pace of this action does rather increase, not diminish, doubt that all the gold is really available.

I hope you understand that I would prefer a different kind of handling of my question this time around:


Thank you very much for your attention!

Kind regards,
Lars Schall.

Here’s Mr. Truman’s response:

Dear Mr. Schall,

I think I have engaged enough on this topic with you, perhaps too much.

I was interested in the statement that according to the United Nations the Federal Reserve Bank of New York engaged in a gold swap in 1981.  I was surprised by that report because I was at the Federal Reserve Board at the time and do not recall any such operation.  Of course, I could have a bad memory or the operation could have been hidden from the Board, but I doubt it on both counts. 

I have two hypotheses: the United Nations did not know what it was talking about or the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was involved in a gold swap, but it was as agent on behalf of two countries with gold in the vaults of the FRBNY.  Those hypotheses are not mutually exclusive.  Moreover, in my view, if the latter explanation is correct then the FRBNY has no obligation to be transparent about the operation for the same reason that your bank should not reveal to the general public to whom you are writing checks or transmitting money.


I thanked Mr. Truman for the clarification and promised to him that I won’t ask him to spend more of his precious time with me. He could have ignored me altogether, so I am quite thankful that he found some time to engage himself on this topic.

By the way, the Bundesbank wrote me today:

Confirmation of receipt 2013/001249 for your e-mail ‚One Question re the transfer of gold from NYC to Frankfurt‘

Dear Mr Schall,

We have received your e-mail and are currently processing it. It has been allocated the number 2013/001249.
Please quote the above reference number when making inquiries.
If you use the function answer in your e-mail program, the refenence number will be inserted automatically.

Yours sincerely,

Wilhelm-Epstein-Strasse 14
60431 Frankfurt am Main

To be continued…


I received this message from the NY Fed to the question above:

Mr. Schall,

We cannot discuss individual accounts or transactions. Information about the gold vault and custody can be found on the New York Fed’s website.


Jack Gutt
Media Relations and Public Affairs
Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Now the question is: why can’t they discuss these transactions? I will let you know about the answer in a further update as soon as I have it.


Here is the reply of the New York Fed why they can’t discuss those transactions:

Mr. Schall,

Because of contractual confidentiality requirements.


Jack Gutt
Media Relations and Public Affairs
Federal Reserve Bank of New York

UPDATE THREE (February 6, 2013):

After he had read the second answer given by Mr. Gutt, Chris Powell from the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) told me that he still had a specific question. So I wrote to Mr. Gutt on January 31 in order to forward the following:

Dear Mr. Gutt,
thank you!

Chris Powell (in the CC) from the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, who has read your answer, would like to ask this question:

Of course we can understand contractual confidentiality by the New York Fed if it applies to gold held in custody and owned by others. But not if it applies to gold owned by the United States. That’s the question: whether your confidentiality applies to gold owned by the United States?

Lars Schall.

The NY Fed respectively Mr. Gutt did not answer.

Moreover, the Deutsche Bundesbank is apparently still processing the e-mail it received from me on January 29. At least, to paraphrase Al Jolson: I ain’t heard nothing from its press department yet.

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