For years, people have been wondering how much gold is stored in the London vaults but they never found the answer, until an industry body, the London Bullion Market Association earlier this week revealed that there is about 300 billion dollars worth of bullion stocked inside the London vaults. The data released by the body also stated that there was about 7,500 tonnes of gold which is equivalent to 596,000 gold bars, stored in London at the end of March this year, as per a Financial Times report. These figures were released with an aim to improve transparency and persuade policymakers so that banks trading in bullion should not have to face more onerous regulatory requirements.
It is estimated by analysts that two-thirds of London’s gold, i.e. nearly 5,100 tonnes, is inside the Bank of England alone. The rest is held in vaults controlled by seven official custodians, which include HSBC and JPMorgan, London’s two biggest bullion banks which are backing the LBMA’s transparency imitative.
According to Bank of England, its gold vaults hold around 400,000 bars of gold, worth over £100 billion, making Bank of England the second largest keeper of gold in the world after the New York Federal Reserve tops the list.
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Since gold is mostly traded over the counter or directly between the buyers and sellers in London, there is not much transparency. This was a major concern for a while and forced the authorities to do some thinking.
The chief executive of LBMA was delighted with the fact that the body was able to provide an answer to the long-standing question. “It’s a question that I’ve been asked since I joined the market a decade ago and one I’m sure that was asked many years before,” she said while adding that LBMA would release monthly vault data from now on with a three-month lag.
The data released by London Bullion Market Association further revealed that 32,078 tonnes of silver, worth $19bn, was also sitting in London’s vaults, which are usually equipped with extreme security measures such as blast doors and fingerprint sensors.