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A gold reserve is the gold held by a national central bank, intended as a store of value and as a guarantee to redeem promises to pay depositors, note holders (e.g., paper money), or trading peers, or to secure a currency.
It has been estimated that all the gold mined by the end of 2011 totalled 171,300 tonnes. At a price of US$1500 per troy ounce, reached on 12 April 2013, one tonne of gold has a value of approximately US$48.2 million. The total value of all gold ever mined would exceed US$8.2 trillion at that valuation.[note 1]
During most of history, a nation's gold reserves were considered its key financial asset and a major prize of war. A typical view was expressed in a secret memorandum by the British Chief of the Imperial General Staff from October 1939, at the beginning of World War II. The British Military and the British Secret Service laid out “measures to be taken in the event of an invasion of Holland and Belgium by Germany” and presented them to the War Cabinet:
The Belgian government rushed to ship the gold to a safe place: Dakar. After the Germans occupied Belgium and France in 1940, they demanded the Belgian gold reserve back. In 1941, Vichy French officials arranged the transport of almost 5,000 boxes with 221 tons of gold to officials of the German Reichsbank.
As of June 2009, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) held 3,217 tonnes (103.4 million troy ounces) of gold, which had been constant for several years. In the third quarter of 2009, the IMF announced that it will sell one eighth of its holdings, a maximum of 403.3 tonnes, based on a new income model agreed upon in April 2008, and subsequently announced the sale of 200 tonnes to India, 10 tonnes to Sri Lanka, a further 10 tonnes of gold were also sold to Bangladesh Bank in September 2010 and 2 tonnes to the Bank of Mauritius. These gold sales were conducted in stages at prevailing market prices.
The IMF maintains an internal book value of its gold that is far below market value. In 2000, this book value was XDR 35, or about US$47 per troy ounce. An attempt to revalue the gold reserve to today's value has met resistance for different reasons.
The IMF regularly maintains statistics of national assets as reported by various countries. These data are used by the World Gold Council to periodically rank and report the gold holdings of countries and official organizations.
The gold listed for each of the countries in the table may not be physically stored in the country listed, as central banks generally have not allowed independent audits of their reserves. Gold leasing by central banks could place into doubt the reported gold holdings in the table below.
|Gold's share of|
|3||International Monetary Fund||2,814.0||N.A.|
|13||European Central Bank||503.2||28%|
|33||Bank for International Settlements||111.0||N.A.|
|1||SPDR Gold Shares||ETF||1,239|
|2||ETF Securities Gold Funds||ETF||259.79|
|3||ZKB Physical Gold||ETF||195.53|
|4||COMEX Gold Trust||ETF||137.61|
|5||Julius Baer Physical Gold Fund||ETF||93.50|
|6||Central Fund of Canada||CEF||52.71|
|8||Sprott Physical Gold Trust||CEF||32.27|
|9||ETFS Physical Swiss Gold Shares||ETF||27.97|
|Share of total|
world gold holdings
|Investment (bars, coins)||33,000||19.26%|