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BIS' gold swaps rise slightly in June but are down sharply since last year

Section: Documentation

By Robert Lambourne
Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Bank for International Settlements' has just published its statement of account for June and it indicate that the bank is still actively trading gold swaps, which the bank uses to gain access to gold held by commercial banks. But recent activity appears to be much reduced from the second half of 2018.

There is not enough information in the monthly reports to calculate the exact amount of swaps, but based on the information in the BIS’ statement for June, the bank's gold swaps stand at about 126 tonnes at the end of the month, up 48 tonnes from the approximately 78 tonnes as of May 31.

Swaps stood at 88 tonnes as of April 30, 175 tonnes as of March 31, 303 tonnes as of February 28, 247 tonnes as of January 31, 275 tonnes as of December 2018, 308 tonnes as of November 2018, 372 tonnes as of October 2018, 238 tonnes as of September 2018, and 370 tonnes as of August 2018.

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In addition the BIS' annual report for the financial year to March 31 was also published recently. Following the bank's usual approach, the annual report discloses little about the reasons for the bank's activity in gold and in particular for gold swaps.

During its financial year just concluded the BIS did not sell any of its own gold, the first year for several years without any sales.

Use of BIS gold sight accounts for central banks increased in the financial year, which is also something of a change, since their use has generally declined in the last decade.

More background on the bank's medium-term history of using gold swaps is posted here:

On February 3 this year GATA published comments from a former gold industry executive describing the activities of the BIS in gold swaps in previous decades.

The former executive wrote: "Effectively this process created a supply of 'paper gold' -- sometimes but not always marked to market -- that had a depressing effect on the gold price":

The BIS refuses to explain its activity in the gold market -- its objectives and the underlying parties in interest --

-- and mainstream financial news organizations refuse to ask the bank about it.


Robert Lambourne is a retired business executive in the United Kingdom who consults with GATA about the involvement of the Bank for International Settlements in the gold market.

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