The United States maintains the largest stockpile of gold in the world, storing as much as the next three countries combined. The yellow metal makes up 79% of the country’s foreign reserves and is stored at Fort Knox in Kentucky.
Russia has also been aggressively purchasing the precious metal, leapfrogging China to hold fifth place. The country is looking to diversify its reserves away from the dollar.
1. United States
Back in the day when paper money wasn’t backed by gold, the United States held most of the world’s gold reserves. Today, it holds about 8,134 metric tons of the precious metal.
It is also one of the top central banks that have become net buyers for the past seven years. Turkey is its largest buyer. Russia is the next. The International Monetary Fund is not a country so it doesn’t appear in this list.
The Bundesbank holds a significant share of Germany’s total foreign reserves in gold. Some of this gold is stored in Frankfurt, with the remainder at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and in London.
In 2012, euroskeptic voices in Germany began calling for a repatriation of German gold held abroad, fearing that the bullion might be stolen or tampered with. The Bundesbank agreed to bring a portion of the gold back home.
Italy is one of the largest central bank gold holders in the world. Its official reserves total 2,451.8 tonnes.
Like other Eurosystem nations, its gold is owned by the Banca d’Italia and not the government.
Note that the International Monetary Fund is not a country and is thus not included in this list. However, if it were, it would hold the third spot.
Although the International Monetary Fund is not a country, it does hold substantial gold reserves. In fact, if it were a country, it would be number 3 on this list.
Switzerland, known for its financial expertise and geopolitical neutrality, holds a significant amount of gold. During World War II, it became the center of European gold trading with both Allies and Axis countries.
Switzerland is a country known for its financial expertise and neutrality. They have been net buyers of gold over the past few years.
Russia is aggressively increasing their gold reserves, leapfrogging China to fifth place in 2019. They are looking to diversify away from the pounding impact of sanctions and a weak rouble.
They also store gold on behalf of other central banks. This can be fraught with controversy when nations want their gold back.
While countries no longer need their currency to be backed by gold, many still hold substantial reserves. In 2021, 10 central banks bought more than a tonne of gold.
Russia is another big buyer as it continues to move away from the US Dollar and expand its monetary holdings. It is also a gold producer.
China is a country that keeps its gold purchases quiet, but Ross Norman estimates that it has increased its reserves by 400 tonnes over the first two months of 2022. This follows on from a period of low purchasing, which is consistent with Chinese governments’ history of prioritising saving and investment over consumption.
Governments keep vast amounts of bullion to protect themselves from hyperinflation or another economic calamity.
Historically, India has been a huge driver of global gold demand. It’s no surprise that the country has one of the largest gold reserves.
In 2022, India has been a consistent net buyer of gold. Many Indians invest in gold because it offers better returns than post-tax savings invested in financial instruments. It also avoids income tax. This is why India comes in eighth place in the list of top 10 central banks with the most gold reserves.
Gold has long been a popular store of value in Turkey. Citizens use it as a gift at events such as weddings and circumcision ceremonies, and merchants inside Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar often use it to pay rent.
The central bank has been selling off its gold reserves to meet rising domestic demand after suspending imports in February. The monetary authority has been accepting liras in exchange for the bullion.
Countries around the world hold gold as a way to maintain economic stability and to counteract inflation. Last year, central banks became net buyers of gold bullion after decades of selling, pushing the price of the precious metal to record highs.
The United States holds the largest official gold reserves, stored at Fort Knox in Kentucky and at other Federal depositories around the country.