Whilst (as they say at the World Gold Council) waiting for the latest Gold Demand Trends report to come out yesterday, I took a quick trip through the historical data the WGC maintains and came across this chart that lends much needed context to the graphic from this item earlier today.
Importantly, note that the vast majority of 2010 and 2011 sales under CBGA3 (the third iteration of the Central Bank Gold Agreement) below were sales of the International Monetary Fund gold that the group had been itching to sell for many years. What little gold central banks have sold in recent years – about 18 tonnes by Germany, Greece, and Malta – went toward making gold coins.
Of course, the take-away here is that, prior to the financial crisis that marked the end of a multi-decade period of credit-fueled economic growth, the world’s central banks really did think that gold was irrelevant.
They no longer think that.
European banks have stopped selling as shown above, while emerging market central banks are now buying more per year than the Europeans used to sell – some 534 tonnes in 2012 – as countries like China and Russia understandably shift their reserves from Western paper money to something more enduring.