One relic checks on another

19 Dec

The recent visit by the Queen of England to the BOE vault for purposes of checking on the gold account begged the question: why?. Was it simply a public relations ploy by the BOE to placate those that question, ala Ron Paul, the existence of expressed central bank holdings of gold. Most likely it was, but it got us to thinking about the role of gold in a modern day monetary system.  The “barbarous relic”, as it is known, is considered by some to be a monetary asset because some central banks hold it as such and universally recognize others holdings as such.  However, the recent spate of unconventional balance sheet acquisitions by global central banks threaten to dampen the “gold standard” (pun intended) affixed to those assets held by central banks. We also raise these questions within the context of recent central bank attempts to affect public policy through central bank policy.  Specifically, if central banks are trying to control parts of the domestic economy, why not utilize strategic asset purchases for that very reason.  We strongly question why, for example, the South African Reserve Bank does not include platinum and palladium as a large portion of its own central bank reserves.  These metals are more precious than gold, and their specific industries are critical to the growth and trade of their own domestic economy.  Some might bring up liquidity concerns as it relates to the purchase of such metals.  However, we question how truly liquid the balance sheets will be of the major central banks in the event  that they disengage from their aggressive sovereign debt purchase programs.

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