Here's a look at the 20 largest holders of gold on the planet according to the World Gold Council report in January 2014.
1. United States - 8,133.5 tonnes
While the US permanently abandoned the gold standard in 1971, it has the largest holdings of any single country by a wide margin. The growth of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet can only be sustained without dire consequences if it is backed by hard assets like gold. While most of the gold is held at Fort Knox in Kentucky, gold is also held by the US Mints in Philadelphia and Denver and several other locations. Imagine if the "conspiracy" theorists are right and that Fort Knox and other repositories do not have gold in them. It is this gold, the massive U.S. GDP and America’s underlying wealth of natural resources that keep the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
2. Germany - 3,387.1 tonnes
Germany's central bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank in Frankfurt, is the manager of the country's reserves. However, reports have surfaced that the bulk of Germany's gold is in the physical custody of the New York Federal Reserve. The Bundesbank said a year ago it will repatriate 674 tons of gold from vaults in Paris and New York by 2020 to restore public confidence in the security of Germany’s reserves. But in the first year of the plan, Germany only received back 5% (37.5 metric tonnes) of the total repatriation amount.
3. International Monetary Fund (IMF) - 2,814 tonnes
The IMF overseas the economic activity of its 187 member countries around the globe. While its gold policies have changed over time, the reserves are intended to aid national economies and stabilise international markets. Depending on market conditions, it will buy or sell portions of its reserves in support of specific economic initiatives.
How Much Gold Does China Really Have?
China is the biggest gold consumer and producer in the world. But Beijing does not publish gold trade statistics, and there are substantial volumes entering the country unrecorded, through Shanghai and gray routes. There is no recent official data about Chinese central bank gold holdings, as the institution last announced its gold holdings in April 2009, at 1,054 tons. China is also encouraging its people to place some portion of their personal wealth in precious metals. How much gold has the People's Bank of China accumulated since 2009, when China gave its last official gold holdings update ? One thing is certain: it is well more than the official number of just over 1000 tons. China may be buying gold to diversify its foreign reserve holdings away from its heavy exposure to the U.S. dollar, which accounts for the vast majority of its foreign reserves.
Changes in World Gold Official Reserves :