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History and value of the German gold

All about German gold reserves: Where does Germany store its gold reserves? 

The gold reserves of the Federal Republic of Germany

Gold is used and managed by many states to secure their solvency. As an internationally active economy, Germany also has enormous gold reserves in this context, currently amounting to 3,391 tons. In the event of a currency crisis, Germany would have the option of pledging and selling this gold to other states in order to obtain corresponding foreign currency. Thus, German gold reserves are an important pillar of the economy and guarantee financial sovereignty.



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The history of German gold reserves

Gold is an internationally recognized means of payment because it is universally accepted worldwide and is largely stable even in the face of economic and currency risks. In order to stabilize Europe as an economic center, numerous states signed the Bretton Woods Agreement in July 1944, which included a gold foreign exchange standard with fixed exchange rates as well as an obligation on the part of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) to exchange the dollar reserves of each member state for gold. In the event of current account surpluses, compensatory payments were made in U.S. dollars or gold. Germany joined the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1952 and was able to achieve 2,345.57 tons of fine gold by 1958 as a result of the economic miracle years. By the end of 1968, Germany's gold reserves had even risen to 4,033.914 tons and leveled off at about 3,700 tons in the 1970s. With the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, Germany's gold reserves changed only slightly.

Changes within Europe

When the European Exchange Rate System was established in 1979, the European Monetary Cooperation Fund was created. Germany contributed 740 tons of gold to this fund, for which corresponding ECU claims existed. in 1998, this gold was then transferred back to the Federal Republic, so that the stock of 3,700 tons of gold was again reached. in 1999, the central banks participating in the European Monetary Union transferred around 40 billion euros in currency reserves to the European Central Bank. Of this amount, 12 billion euros came from Germany, with gold accounting for 232 tons. In return, Germany received claims against the ECB. Germany's gold reserves have been decreasing slightly each year since 1999 because Germany needs part of these reserves to mint German gold coins.

Overview of the development of German gold reserves in tons

Overview German gold reserves

Currently, the Federal Republic has 3,391 tons at its disposal, which puts it in second place worldwide. Only the USA has larger gold reserves.

An overview of international gold reserves

Table gold reserves of various countries

As of October 2012, Source: WGC

The development of the value of German gold reserves

The value of German Bundesbank gold is largely dependent on the development of the gold price on the commodities market. Accordingly, when gold prices rise, the value of gold increases and Germany can theoretically draw on larger reserves. While the market value of Germany's gold reserves was still around 70.8 billion euros in 2009, it had risen to 135.8 billion euros by the end of 2012. However, it must be taken into account that these are unrealized gains, as it is not possible to sell them to secure the reserves.

The development of the market value of German gold

Market value of gold holdings

This chart clearly shows how volatile the German gold reserves are. The sharp drop in the gold price in 2013 had also ensured that the reserves have reduced accordingly. However, once again these are merely book losses that would only be realized in the event of an actual sale.

The storage of German gold reserves

German gold reserves were acquired in the 1950s and 1960s to finance Germany's foreign trade surpluses, primarily in Great Britain, France and the USA. Due to the high transport costs, the gold reserves in the form of gold bars of 12.5 kg each were often left at the central banks of the respective countries, as the Bundesbank believes that safe custody is also ensured there. It goes without saying that only central banks with the highest international reputation are chosen as storage locations, as they can guarantee the high German security standard. In addition, the gold bars have been numbered, which makes it possible to actually assign the respective bars to the German state and thus to the German people. Furthermore, storage is only carried out in countries with stable democratic structures in order to reduce the risks of foreign storage to a large extent. Even today, therefore, German gold is stored in the vaults of the central banks in New York, London and Paris. Only 31 percent of Germany's gold reserves are stored in Frankfurt.

The current distribution of German gold reserves

Storage location of German gold reserves

The Bundesbank's current depository concept has been increasingly criticized in the past because there were hardly any traceable inventories to prove the stock and thus the existing value. For this reason, the Bundesbank will implement a new concept in the future and bring a large part of the German gold reserves back to Germany into domestic vaults.

The Bundesbank's new depository concept

In a press release in January 2013, the Bundesbank announced that it would store a good half of Germany's gold reserves in vaults in Frankfurt by 2020. This decision was based primarily on confidence-building in Germany and the ability to draw on existing reserves at short notice. By 2020, the stockpile in Frankfurt, which currently corresponds to 31 percent of German gold reserves, is to be increased to 50 percent. To this end, the gold stockpile in Paris will be completely liquidated, because since France also uses the euro as its currency, the basis for exchange rate hedging no longer exists here. The gold storage in New York is to be reduced from 45 percent to 37 percent in the same period.

This report in the ARD Mittagsmagazin gives an insight into the retrieval of the German gold reserves

Thus, a good 300 tons of gold will have to be flown from New York to Frankfurt, and 374 tons of gold will be transported from Paris to Germany. Only the gold stock in London remains stable at 13 percent of the German reserves and thus unchanged in the future.

The retrieval of gold since October 2013

2013 Despite announcements by the Bundesbank, 50 tons of gold could not be brought back to Germany in 2013 as planned; instead, only 37 tons of gold were transported with the help of the Bank for International Settlements BIS. Above all, the fact that the gold from New York was melted down to meet the LGD standard probably accounted for this delay.

Dirk Müller talks about German gold reserves and the return of Bundesbank gold to Germany

The London Gold Delivery Standard stipulates that bars be provided in uniform size and purity, which should facilitate both storage and subsequent inventories in Germany. The new bars now show a purity of 99.5 percent and weigh 350 and 430 ounces (10.9 kg and 13.4 kg). Now, however, from the point of view of many critics, it is no longer comprehensible whether these were actually Germany's gold reserves or merely an exchange. After all, the existing inventory numbers are now no longer visible. Although the German Bundesbank says that it ensures that it is indeed the German gold, it owes comprehensible evidence Gold


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