If you had to guess which country has stacked the most gold in its central bank in the last ten years – who would you pick?
Would it be India, the world’s biggest importer of gold?
Or maybe China, the biggest force in the modern gold market?
Nice try, but you’d be wrong with either guess.
The unexpected winner has accumulated a formidable stash – and just in time for the huge coming move in gold…
The answer is in fact, Russia.
For the last ten years, Russia has been busily converting its oil revenue into gold. According to the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the Russian central bank has now stacked 570 tonnes of gold in its basement. This has seen the total jump by 147% in a decade, from just 388 tonnes, to 958 tonnes.
To put that in context, the world’s biggest national government stash is the US holding of 8,134 tonnes.
So the Russians may have had a busy decade but they still have a way to go. Still – Russia is hot on the heels of China’s official holdings, which had 1,054 tonnes at last count. I say ‘last count’ because it’s coming up to four years since China updated the market. So they almost certainly have far more than 1,054 tonnes by now.
You only need to look at how much gold is pouring into China. Chinese gold imports from Hong Kong have soared in recent years from just a few tonnes a month in early 2011, to the interstellar pace of 114 tonnes in December of 2012.
This finished off a huge 2012 for Chinese gold imports, with a total of 834 tonnes going from Hong Kong to China – almost twice the figure for 2011.
Some of it will have gone to the central bank, but a large portion will go to the Chinese public. And as the Chinese get wealthier, they buy more gold.
The same is also true for India. The two countries buy around 40% of the annual (mined and recycled) gold supply between them, so it’s no surprise that as China and India have seen strong economic growth, the gold price has moved up in line with them.
So the recent bounce in Chinese economic growth is one reason to be more bullish on gold. I think this is one of a few key factors behind the market getting much more positive recently, after a very slow 18 months for gold.
For Diggers & Drillers readers, I’ve already tipped the five best gold stocks on the market to leverage the coming move in gold.
The institutional research on gold is really getting going now. For example, ANZ Research just called gold one of its top four hard commodity picks for 2013. They suggest buying gold as ‘dollar weakness and strong demand create [a] positive atmosphere’. In case you’re wondering, their other three picks are copper, palladium and brent crude oil.
We’ve also heard from JPMorgan calling for gold to surge very soon and for it to hit $1,800 by June. The reasons are that the Middle East is becoming more unstable, and that production is crashing in key supplier South Africa due to the country’s unstable mining industry.
But there’s one much bigger reason to buy gold now, which I’ll tell you about in a moment.
First I’ll show you why I think the timing for Aussie investors to buy gold looks particularly good.
When buying in Australia you need to factor in the Australian dollar. Thankfully it looks like the Aussie is finally on its way down, which would give the Aussie gold price a lift. This five year gold chart shows the Aussie gold price making its way up in fits and starts.
You can see that the best time to buy gold is when the Aussie gold price has dipped below the 200-day moving average (red line). And the good news for you is that we’re pretty much in one of those dips right now.
Take another look at the chart above. If you could have timed your gold purchases over the last five years, don’t you wish you’d bought during the periods I’ve circled in green? Well if you buy gold soon, you should be able to do exactly that.
For my money, the main reason to buy gold and gold stocks, sooner rather than later, is the imminent effect of the Fed’s new pace of asset purchases. It is now buying $85 billion a month via QE3+4, and this has had an electrifying effect in the past. The current program now includes $45 billion in Treasuries, which should add some kick.
This chart below illustrates this beautifully. Over the last twelve years, as the Fed expanded its balance sheet (red line), both with QE programs and other asset purchases, the gold price (green line) has tracked it very closely. As the Fed trashed the dollar, the value of gold has become relatively higher.
The important point here is that the blue line shows what will happen to the Fed’s balance sheet this year as it purchases another $85 billion in assets each month. You can see it started turning up a few months ago, but the gold price has yet to catch on yet.
If the relationship holds as firmly as it has in the past, then gold should start tracking up very soon indeed.
Dr Alex Cowie
Editor, Diggers & Drillers
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