One of the details from
Friday’s report on the shrinking trade deficit during the month of December
was that gold exports played an important role in narrowing the gap. More
than 20 tonnes of the stuff, worth roughly $1.2 trillion, left our shores,
most likely headed for Asia. Based on the data
below from the St. Louis Fed, there isn’t anything particularly new about
this, it’s just not something that I’ve ever thought about.
Of course, many people think
that an even larger amount of monetary gold (i.e., metal held as reserve
assets by the government and/or central bank) leaves the U.S. every month as
part of a gold leasing program related to the nation’s official gold reserves
of 8,134 tonnes. Just as an interesting point of reference, if the official
gold reserves of the U.S. were being leased out at the same 20 tonnes per
month rate as nonmonetary gold, it would take about 33 years to deplete the
entire U.S. gold stockpile.