The US dollar has been the world’s reserve currency for many decades now, but the trends seem to indicate that China is preparing to overtake the US in regards to being the “standard” currency. The world’s monetary system has not had any direct involvement with gold since 1971, when U.S. president Richard Nixon ended the conversion of the dollar into gold.
China seems to be preparing itself for a big involvement in gold, potentially backing their currency with gold. The graph below shows that world reserve currencies come and go, and they change on average every 95 years.
It is impossible to know exactly how much gold China has, as their central bank is more secretive in this regard compared to other countries. The last “official” announcement of their gold holdings was in 2009, and it was reported as 1,054 tons. Those figures would currently put China in the number 6 spot on the list of countries who hold the most gold. However, Matt Insley at Agora Financial put together an estimate based on import figures, mining production figures, as well as more stealthy forms such as black-market gold from Africa and the fact that China urges its citizens to own physical gold.
The mining and import numbers alone would mean that China has at least 3927 tons, but with the other additions, it brings the number up to potentially 7000 tons!
Either of those two numbers would currently place China at the number two spot on the world rankings of gold holdings. The number one spot goes to the US, who supposedly holds 8133.5 tons supposedly. Keep in mind that the US has not had their gold audited since 1953, despite former congressman Ron Paul’s efforts in introducing a bill that would audit Fort Knox in 2011.
Last year saw a new international debacle when Germany asked for its gold to be repatriated by the Fed who had been storing it. The Fed claimed it would only deliver 300 tons, out of the 1500 tons of gold that was originally stored. They also added the provision that it would be paid back over a seven-year time. So far, only 5 tons have been delivered from the Fed’s vaults. What this could mean is that the US has almost no gold at all. So if it’s true, then China already has more gold than any other country in the world.
The Chinese save over 35% of their incomes, compared to about 2-3% in the US, and they have the world’s largest manufacturing sector. Impressively their middle class seems to continues to increase while the US middle class dwindles. China is one of the largest creditor nations in the world, while the US on the other hand is the biggest debtor nation. All signs point to a new world reserve currency, and the balance of power may change with it.