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Who Owns Most of the World's Gold?

4% of the World Controls 12.6% of the Gold

Written by Luke Burgess
Posted November 4, 2015

With gold prices getting ready to soar, we've decided to find out who owns the most bullion in the world.

It's no surprise that governments, central banks, and investment funds are the world's largest holders of gold reserves. These organizations know gold is the ultimate store of value that protects against inflation and offers a safe haven during times of economic and geopolitical turmoil.

To find out who owns the most gold in the world, we referred to data from the International Monetary Fund's International Financial Statistics Report.

The 10 Biggest Gold Owners in the World

#10 -- The Netherlands

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 10  Netherlands  612.5  55.2%

The Netherland central bank, De Nederlandsche Bank, oversees the Dutch national finances, including the country's 612.5 tonnes of gold reserves. The Dutch's gold is currently account for 55.2% of the country's foreign reserves. Five years ago, gold accounted for 61.4% of the The Netherlands foreign reserves -- although there has been no change in the nominal amount of gold the Dutch hold.

#9 -- Japan

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 9  Japan  765.2  2.4%

Although Japan is the ninth largest gold owner in the world, its 765.2 tonnes of the yellow metal account for just 2.4% of the island nation's total foreign reserves. In the past five years, gold's share of Japan's foreign reserves has very slightly increased.

#8 -- Switzerland

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 8  Switzerland  1040.0  7.7%

Conducting Switzerland's monetary policy is the Swiss National Bank, which oversees the country's 1,040.0 tonnes of gold. The gold is believed to be stored in huge underground vaults near the federal Parliament building in Berne, but the Swiss National Bank treats the location of the gold reserves as a secret. Switzerland has sold just a tiny bit of its gold holdings since 2010. However, gold's share of the Swiss foreign reserves has dropped to 7.7% from 37.1% five years ago.

#7 -- China

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 7  China  1054.1  1.0%

Most people tend to assume that China is one of the top three gold-holding countries. And while China does own quite a bit of the yellow metal, the Chinese gold accounts for only 1.0% of the nation's total foreign reserves. And although the country has slightly added to its reserves, gold's share of China's total foreign reserves has actually fallen from 1.8% five years ago.

#6 -- Russia

 russia gold
 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 6  Russia  1,208.2  12.2%

Russia owns just over 1,200 tonnes of gold, which account for 12.2% of the country's foreign reserves. Only recently did Russia begin publically reporting the country's gold holdings.

#5 -- France

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 5  France  2,435.4  72.6%

The Banque De France is responsible for France's gold holdings, which have been reported at about 2,435.4 tonnes by the International Monetary Fund. In five years, France has sold a small bit of it's gold holdings (about 15 tonnes). But like many other countries on the list so far, gold's share has fallen from 72.6% five years ago to 65.6% today.

#4 -- Italy

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 4  Italy  2,451.8  66.6%

The Italian National Bank, Banca D'Italia, manages the country's large gold holdings, which account for 66.6% of its foreign reserves. Italy, which controls 2,451.8 tonnes of gold, hasn't altered its reserves in several years.

#3 -- IMF

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 3  International Monetary Fund  2,814.0  n/a

The International Monetary Fund oversees the global financial system by following the macroeconomic policies of its 185 member countries. It is an organization formed to stabilize international exchange rates and facilitate development and offers highly leveraged loans, mainly to poorer countries.2,814.0

The IMF's gold policies have changed in the last quarter century, but the reserves remain in place for use in stabilizing international markets and aiding national economies. The IMF's official policy on gold as it is stated on the organization's website is governed by the following principles:

  • As an undervalued asset held by the IMF, gold provides fundamental strength to its balance sheet. Any mobilization of IMF gold should avoid weakening its overall financial position.
  • The IMF should continue to hold a relatively large amount of gold among its assets, not only for prudential reasons, but also to meet unforeseen contingencies.
  • The IMF has a systemic responsibility to avoid causing disruptions to the functioning of the gold market.
  • Profits from any gold sales should be used whenever feasible to create an investment fund, of which only the income should be used.

The IMF is naturally going to alter its gold reserves more than a country. However, the IMF's gold reserves have dropped significantly from 3,217.3 tonnes five years ago to 2,814.0 tonnes today -- a 12.5% decrease.

#2 -- Germany

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 2  Germany  3,384.2  67.8%

The Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany's central bank, is the most influential member of the European System of Central Banks. With a hefty 3,384.2 tonnes of gold reserves, Germany's gold accounts for almost 67.8% of the country's total foreign reserves. Both the nominal tonnage and gold's share of Germany's foreign reserves have dropped a little in the past five years.

#1 -- United States of America

 Rank  Owner  Tonnes  Share of Foreign Reserves
 1  United States  8,133.5  72.6%

The United States holds the largest gold reserve in the world. With 8,133.5 tonnes, this massive gold reserve represents about .9436 an ounce for every person living in the country.

The majority of the American gold is reported to be held in the world-famous United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, Kentucky, although there is some controversy that suggests otherwise. The remainder of the U.S. reserves are held at the Philadelphia Mint, the Denver Mint, the West Point Bullion Depository, and the San Francisco Assay Office.

The United States has not added to to subtracted from it's gold holdings in several years. However, gold's share of U.S. foreign reserves have dropped from 78.3% in 2010 to 72.6% today.

The top ten largest owners of gold in the world are reported to control nearly 24,000 tonnes -- or over 768 million troy ounces. With gold spot prices at $1,100 an ounce, this metal would be worth approximately $845 billion and represents about 14% of all the gold ever mined.

We continue to urge all Wealth Daily readers to buy and hold both gold and silver in anticipation of significantly higher precious metal prices.

Good Investing,


Luke Burgess


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