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Central Banks and Gold Puzzles

Authors
  • Aizenman, Joshua
  • Inoue, Kenta
Publication Date
Feb 26, 2012
Source
eScholarship - University of California
Keywords
License
Unknown
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Abstract

We study the curious patterns of gold holding and trading by central banksduring 1979-2010. With the exception of several discrete step adjustments,central banks keep maintaining passive stocks of gold, independently of thepatterns of the real price of gold. We also observe the synchronization of goldsales by central banks, as most reduced their positions in tandem, and theirtendency to report international reserves valuation excluding gold positions.Our analysis suggests that the intensity of holding gold is correlated with ‘globalpower’ – by the history of being a past empire, or by the sheer size of a country,especially by countries that are or were the suppliers of key currencies. Theseresults are consistent with the view that central bank’s gold position signalseconomic might, and that gold retains the stature of a ‘safe haven’ asset at timesof global turbulence. The under-reporting of gold positions in the internationalreserve/GDP statistics is consistent with loss aversion, wishing to maintain asizeable gold position, while minimizing the criticism that may occur at a timewhen the price of gold declines

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