The world’s second-largest reinsurer, German Munich Re which is roughly twice the size of Berkshire Hathaway Re, is boosting its gold reserves and buying gold in the face of the punishing negative interest rates from the European Central Bank, it announced today.
As reported by Thomson Reuters this afternoon, the world’s largest reinsurer is far from alone in seeking alternative investment strategies to counter the near-zero or negative interest rates that reduce the income insurers require to pay out on policies.
Munich Re has held gold in its coffers for some time and recently added a cash sum in the two-digit million euros, Chief Executive Nikolaus von Bomhard told a news conference.
“We are just trying it out, but you can see how serious the situation is,” von Bomhard said.
The ECB last week cut its main interest rate to zero and dropped the rate on its deposit facility to -0.4 percent from -0.3 percent, increasing the amount banks are charged to deposit funds with the central bank.
Munich Re is one of the largest reinsurance companies in the world - It oversees €231 billion in investments. A small 3% allocation to gold would equate to buying gold worth €8.19 billion. At the current spot price of €1,130 per ounce that would equate to 7.2 million ounces or 225.4 tonnes of gold bullion
The news is interesting and we believe that other institutions will follow in their footsteps and diversify into gold in order to protect themselves from negative yields. We have not heard of any other non central bank institutions diversifying into gold but it stands to reason that a small percentage will follow in Munich Res footsteps.