Fractional-reserve banking is not limited to national currencies. The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) runs the biggest "physical gold" market in the world. But at least one expert on the LBMA, Jeffrey Christian of the CPM Group, filed a report in 2000 that the "London bullion market is actually a fractional-reserve gold banking system built on the presumption that most gold buyers will never take delivery of their metal but rather leave it on deposit with the LBMA members from whom they bought it." GATA's Chris Powell explains:
GATA board member Adrian Douglas has studied the LBMA statistics and Christian's work and estimates that the great majority of gold sold by LBMA members doesn't exist -- that most gold sales by LBMA members are highly leveraged. How leveraged? How much gold is due from LBMA members that doesn't really exist? The LBMA doesn't report that. Like the Fed's gold swap arrangements, the world mustn't be permitted to know. The consequences might be catastrophic for the banking interests that run the world.Adrian Douglas adds:
For then the world might understand why even at its recent price above $1,300 per ounce gold has not come close to keeping up with the inflation, the currency debasement, of the last few decades, why gold has not fulfilled its function of hedging against inflation. That is, gold's enemies figured out how to increase its supply by vast amounts without going through the trouble of digging it out of the ground. They invented "paper gold" -- gold that doesn't exist but that many buyers accepted, never suspecting that major financial institutions might deceive or defraud them.
I have recently written a series of exposes of the LBMA (see References 1-4 below) using the association's own data to show that the LBMA's bullion banks are operating on a "fractional reserve" basis. My analysis indicates that the bullion banks are holding only 1 real ounce for about every 45 ounces of gold that they have sold, a reserve ratio of just 2.3 percent.