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Poland Makes Largest Gold Purchase in Two Decades

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You can add Poland to the list of countries buying gold.

The Polish central bank added about seven tons of gold to its reserves in July and another two tons in August, according to International Monetary fund data. It was the largest gold purchase by Poland since 1998.

Poland’s gold bullion reserves now stand at the highest level since at least 1983, according to IMF data.

A number of countries have been buying gold in recent months to diversify reserves and minimize their exposure to the US dollar. Central banks have bought a total of 264 tons of gold this year with Russia leading the way. According to the IMF, central bank purchases accounted for 10% of gold demand through the first half of 2019.

The Russian central bank added 26.1 tons of gold to its hoard in July alone.  Russian gold reserves increased 224 tons in 2017, marking the third consecutive year of plus-200 ton growth. In February, Russia passed China to become the world’s fifth-largest gold-holding country. (China has not officially added to its reserves since 2016, but many speculate the Chinese might secretly stockpiling the yellow metal as well.)

Kazakhstan and Turkey have also been big buyers. Other countries adding to their gold reserves include Egypt, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, the Philippines, Serbia, Surinam and Tajikistan.

Poland is the first EU country to make significant gold purchases since the late 1990s.

The National Bank of Poland would not comment on the recent increase of its gold reserves. A senior economist at mBank SA told Bloomberg he thought Poland was seeking to diversify its reserves.

Perhaps the basic criterion is the low price of the gold, combined with the expectation for higher global inflation.”

Another analyst told Bloomberg that Poland’s purchase could signal gold’s appeal to central banks is widening. He said a broader and more representative base of central bank buyers can only be good news for the overall gold market.

World Gold Council managing director of central banks and public policy Natalie Dempster said countries also may be buying gold amid expectations that the global monetary system may be shifting away from the US dollar. Just last week, the EU announced it will create a special payment channel to circumvent US economic sanctions and facilitate trade with Iran.

We’ve been reporting on efforts by countries like Russia and China to limit their dependence on the US dollar and set up alternative systems outside of the global dollar system, along with the growing number of central banks buying gold as a way to diversify their holdings away from the greenback. The EU’s move to set up a new payment system indicates that even traditional American allies have grown weary of the US using the dollar as a weapon.

Dempster said more generally, gold helps central banks meet three important goals.

Central banks have three main objectives when they are thinking about reserve assets: to keep their assets safe, to keep their assets liquid and to generate returns. Gold can help to meet all three policy objectives.”

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