Saturday, August 15, 2009

Audit the gold stock

Stewart Dougherty writes at Goldseek (July 27, 2009):
[T]he gold holdings of the U.S. have not been audited in more than 50 years. One reason given for the lack of an audit is that it would be “too expensive” to conduct one.
Dougherty continues:
Even the Treasury Department’s clandestine $50 billion Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF), which is only one-fifth the value of America’s reported gold holdings, undergoes an annual audit. For fiscal year 2008, this audit was conducted by KPMG, a well-known, independent CPA firm. KPMG’s 2008 ESF audit uncovered “significant deficiencies,” “material weaknesses,” a “weak control environment,” and “several control deficiencies.” If a Treasury organization subject to annual audits could fail its recent exam as broadly as that, what are we to assume about the safety and security of the people’s gold supply, which, like the national money geyser, the Federal Reserve Bank, is never audited? And if the ESF is audited each year, what legitimate rationale can there be for not auditing the nation’s gold supply? Something isn’t adding up.
But only from our perspective, not the government's. Dougherty then makes a disturbing observation:
For the past 28.5 years, from 1980 through June, 2009, the United States government’s gold holdings have been reported as being essentially constant, at around 262 million ounces. Gold hit a nominal price high of $850.00 per ounce in January, 1980, when a severe recession was developing. (Compared to today, 1980 looks like the bubbliest part of the Roaring 1920s.) Inflation-adjusted (using government CPI figures, which are hotly debated), that price would now exceed $2,400 per ounce, whereas the current market price is only $950.00 per ounce. As GATA ( has demonstrated beyond any doubt, U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve officials actively monitor and seek to suppress the gold price, because a rising price can signal fiscal, economic and/or fiat currency distress, things that are bad for markets and embarrassing for governments. (GATA’s work in this area has been nothing short of heroic, and is well worth examining in detail.) For gold to be selling today at only 40% of its 1980 inflation-adjusted price, in the midst of the worst financial crisis in the nation’s history, is curious.
He then develops three detailed scenarios about the possible status of American's gold stock.

1. Fort Knox scenario - all 261.5 million ounces of gold is really there. "The gold supply is owned free and clear by the United States and its citizens. It is not swapped, hypothecated, pledged, exchanged, leased, sold, claimed, conditionally offered or in any other way compromised with respect to ownership. A full audit of the gold would prove that it exists strictly in bullion form (with no 'paper bullion' or third party warehouse receipts) in the stated depositories. Based on recent fiscal, financial, monetary and economic developments, we view this scenario as possible, but extremely unlikely."

("The United States Bullion Depository, better known as Fort Knox, is said to contain 147.3 million troy ounces of gold, over half the nation’s total reported gold bullion holdings of 261.5 million troy ounces. The remaining 114 million ounces are said to be stored at the Denver and Philadelphia Mints, the West Point Bullion Depository, and the San Francisco Assay Office.")

2. Fort Hocks scenario - an audit would "show that a significant portion of the citizens’ gold has been mobilized by the Treasury and / or the Federal Reserve; in other words, that it has been hocked at the global financial system’s pawn shop. There are many possible means by which this could have happened . . ." He then goes into details about some of these means.

3. Fort Shocks scenario - an audit would "reveal that America’s gold is gone, either in whole, or in part. It might have been sold outright, pledged to counterparties, or otherwise distributed. The belief that there are millions of ounces of gold in Ft. Knox would therefore be a great American delusion. America’s gold could have been sold or exchanged in several ways." He explains how.

Near the end of his must-read article he concludes:
If it becomes known that the United States has surreptitiously hocked or sold its citizens’ gold, the price per ounce would most likely explode. Conceivably, gold would have its first $500 up day as people threw in the towel on other forms of “money” they could no longer understand or trust.
Even if the Fort Knox scenario could be demonstrated as correct, it doesn't mean the other scenarios would never be tried.

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