In what could definitely be called a stunning move, the Netherlands has announced it has repatriated in excess of 120 tonnes of gold from the vaults of the Federal Reserve in New York to the Dutch Central Bank in Amsterdam. Officially a move made to rebalance the locations where the gold is being stored, one cannot ignore the fact that the Netherlands only repatriated a large part of the gold which was stored in New York and it did not touch the gold stored in Canada and London.
Additionally, it’s not just ‘some’ gold being brought back home, no, the total amount is 122.47 tonnes or almost 4 million ounces with a market value of $5B. This will reduce the exposure of the Dutch Central Bank to the US financial system as now just 31% of its gold is being stored in the vault of the Fed, coming down from 51%. We have the impression this won’t be the last repatriation as the Dutch Central Bank is keeping its shipping route secret ‘in case more gold needs to be repatriated’.
So what was the main reason why the Netherlands brought the shiny precious metal back home? The central bank wants you to believe it’s just an ordinary decision, but believe it or not, the only reason for this move was to restore the confidence of the public in the Central Bank. By publishing this statement, the Dutch Central Bank basically admits that holding gold increases the public trust in the central bank as an institution, and that’s an statement which should not and cannot be underestimated as it basically means that only physical gold can be trusted and that the gold should be stored inside the country. ‘He who owns the gold makes the rules’ once again seems to be up-and-coming again.
The best place to store your gold is obviously in your own back yard, and it looks like the Netherlands aren’t agreeing with the Germans which also wanted to repatriate most of its gold which was stored in the vaults of the Federal Reserve. However, after bringing just a fraction of its gold back to Berlin, Germany publicly stated it would not repatriate any more gold as it ‘fully trusts the Federal Reserve as an institution’ and ‘the Americans are taking good care of their gold’. That’s obviously a bogus reason as the Fed obviously wasn’t suddenly taking better care of the gold than a year before. It’s also interesting to notice that the Netherlands and Germany used a different approach. Whilst Germany was boasting about its attempt to repatriate the gold, the Netherlands chose the ‘stealth’ way and repatriated it first before announcing it.
President Knot of the Dutch Central Bank with 'his' gold.
This strategy isn’t surprising as the Dutch always have been quite savvy. Keep in mind it was one of the most powerful nations right after the middle ages when the VOC really ruled the world shipping five times more goods to and from Asia than its main competitor in Great Britain. This savvy business mind is still in place and we wouldn’t be surprised if the Netherlands would be the frontrunner in a worldwide move to repatriate gold.
Keeping the German repatriation story in mind, the Netherlands are basically giving the Federal Reserve the finger. Unlike Germany, it does not trust the Federal Reserve more than its own central bank and it prefers to ‘sit’ on the gold in Amsterdam rather than store it in a foreign nation. This is a huge policy shift which cannot be underestimated, especially not if you look at all pieces of the puzzle.
As you know, China is still buying gold like crazy and was recently joined by Russia which has bought more gold every month since the beginning of this year. People were fast to dismiss this increased interest in gold as those were ‘special’ countries. Well, that argument is no longer valid. Germany wanted to repatriate its gold last year (but came under pressure to drop its plan), the Netherlands have now successfully repatriated almost 4 million ounces of gold, and there’s a Swiss referendum which asks the opinion of its citizens to increase the gold holdings once again. It’s unlikely the Swiss will approve this proposal as the latest polls show 38% in favor and 47% against the proposal with approximately 15% undecided voters.
The main takeaway here is not that 47% of the people are against increasing the gold reserves, but that 38% is strongly in favor of backing the Swiss Franc with Gold and an additional 15% might consider it. We are sure that a better explanation of the proposal would reduce the amount of opponents. Additionally, a lot of nay-sayers are voting against the party which proposed the idea and aren’t necessarily against the renewed gold standard.
This gold repatriation isn’t an isolated case. All signs are pointing in the direction that several central banks are now getting increasingly interested to increase their gold holdings and to have the gold inside the country instead of somewhere else. The Dutch repatriation is the first step, but we expect more pieces of the puzzle to fall into place soon. Very soon.
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