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Ireland Buys More Gold as Inflation Pressures Mount

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Ireland has added more gold to its reserves as inflation worries mount.

According to the latest data, the Central Bank of Ireland purchased $88 million ($78 million euros) in gold in November, adding to the two tons it added to its holdings in previous months. With the latest purchases, the Irish central bank has boosted its gold reserves by over three tons in a three-month period.

Up until late last year, Ireland had not purchased any gold since 2009. With its gold-buying in recent months, the Irish central bank has boosted gold reserves by 60%.

Bank of Ireland officials would not comment on its newfound interest in gold, saying only that “the central bank’s transactions in gold are commercially sensitive and it cannot disclose details of its asset management strategy beyond the information set out in the Annual Report.”

But many speculate the Irish central bank is hedging against inflation. Ireland’s annual inflation rate came in at 5.3% in November, up from 5.1% in October. That’s the highest Irish inflation rate since 2007.

While the price of gold has faced stiff headwinds in dollar terms, in November, the gold price in euros was at the highest level in over a year.

Bank of Ireland Governor Gabriel Makhlouf has expressed worries about rising inflation.

I am very, very conscious that inflation today is impacting on households across the country. It’s not so much a question of how long will this go on before I start to worry. It’s more that if I see evidence that the blockages are not being fixed, or that different things aren’t happening, then I will start to worry. But I am worried today.”

Ireland is one of several central banks that have entered the gold market in recent months.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) bought 26.3 tons of gold in May and June 2021, according to its most recent International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity report. It was the first expansion of the country’s gold reserves since the year 2000.

Thailand and Brazil made big gold purchases earlier in the year. The Philippines and Mongolia bought smaller amounts. These new faces join a list of countries that have been consistently buying gold, including Kazakhstan, India, Turkey (despite some recent sales), and Uzbekistan.

Poland also recently announced it would further expand its gold reserves by 100 tons in 2022. Bank of Poland President Adam Glapiński said holding gold is a matter of financial security and stability.

Gold will retain its value even when someone cuts off the power to the global financial system, destroying traditional assets based on electronic accounting records. Of course, we do not assume that this will happen. But as the saying goes – forewarned is always insured. And the central bank is required to be prepared for even the most unfavorable circumstances. That is why we see a special place for gold in our foreign exchange management process.”

Net gold buying by central banks globally reached 393 tons at the end of Q3. Central banks have already bought more gold this year than they did in the entirety of 2020 (255 tons) with one quarter left to go. The World Gold Council says net gold purchases are “poised to reach a significant total in 2021.”

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