FRANKFURT Feb 9 Germany's central bank is
bringing home gold reserves stored in places like New York and
Paris faster than planned, it said on Thursday, as confidence in
the euro ebbs even in the heart of the currency bloc after a
decade of a sluggish economy.
Stashed away at the height of the Cold War in safe havens
well out of Moscow's reach, the 3,378-tonne, 120 billion-euro
gold stockpile has become a symbol of Germany's economic ascent
and a guardian of its stability.
But with Europe stumbling from crisis to crisis, the German
public has grown uneasy about keeping the gold abroad. Some even
argue the world's second biggest bullion reserve may be needed
to back a new deutschmark, should the euro zone break up.
Having already moved 583 tonnes of gold out of New York and
Paris, the Bundesbank plans to have half its gold in Frankfurt
by the end of 2017, years ahead of its 2020 schedule, with the
rest split between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the
Bank of England.
"We have a lot of discussions about (U.S. President Donald)
Trump, regarding implications on monetary policy,
macroeconomics, etc., but we trust the central bank of the
U.S.," Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele told a news
"Trump has not triggered a discussion about the storage
facility in New York," he said.
With French Presidential candidate Marie Le Pen and Italy's
5-Star Movement openly campaigning to pull their nations out of
the euro, confidence in the common currency appears to be
Opponents argue that the rigidities of the currency union
force them from austerity to austerity, keeping unemployment
high, wages low and competitiveness weak, perpetuating economic
malaise that actually drives countries apart and failing the key
goal of the euro.
Thrifty Germans, working to repay debt taken out at the
height of the crisis, meanwhile feel they are forced to bankroll
many of Europe's weakest economies, a source of animosity.
Still, the Bundesbank is content to keep just half of the
gold at home and has no plans to relocate even more of the
reserves, Thiele said.
Thiele added that Britain's plans to leave the EU have had
no effect on the plans, since London remains a key gold-trading
market and a safe place for storage.
Moved in part via Switzerland, the relocation has so far
cost 6.9 million euros, Thiele said.
Hoping to soothe the public and ease speculation that some
of the gold might not even be there, the Bundesbank released a
2,300-page list of gold bars in 2015, promising increased
transparency to calm wary Germans.
During the Cold War, 98 percent of Germany's gold was stored
abroad, with the biggest chunk moved so far, some 931 tonnes,
brought back from the Bank of England in 2000.
Once the relocation is completed, the Bundesbank will keep
1,236 tonnes in New York, 432 tonnes in London and the rest in
Frankfurt. The current move involves 300 tonnes from New York
and 374 tonnes from Paris.
(Writing by Balazs Koranyi, editing by Larry King)