As we method mid-year 2024 within the surroundings of an all-time excessive US greenback gold value, its notable that central financial institution gold shopping for continues to be one of many principal themes dominating gold market dialogue.

It is because following a document 12 months in 2022, when in line with the World Gold Council (WGC), central banks and official monetary establishments the world over web bought an enormous 1082 tonnes of gold for his or her financial gold reserves, the 12 months 2023 was practically as spectacular, with central banks as a bunch shopping for a web 1037 tonnes of gold, simply shy of the 2022 complete.

On condition that complete gold mining manufacturing was 3625 tonnes in 2022, and 3644 tonnes in 2023, it may be seen that central banks at the moment are liable for shopping for the equal of between 28 – 30% of all newly mined gold.

Gold Worth in US {dollars} – 5 years to Might 2024

Moreover, the latest shopping for implies that, as of the top of 2023, central banks and official monetary establishments held a mixed 36,700 tonnes of gold, which was 17% of the world’s above floor gold stockpile of 212,580 tonnes as per WGC estimates.

Financial gold shopping for exercise has now continued into 2024, with central banks buying a web 290 tonnes of gold between January and March 2024, which once more in line with the WGC, is the strongest first quarter on document.

Unreported Shopping for

Earlier than which of the world’s central banks are driving this influential gold demand dynamic, its essential to notice that almost all of annual central financial institution gold demand estimates printed by the World Gold Council comprise ‘unreported shopping for’, i.e. shopping for which has not been reported by any central financial institution however which has been ‘guestimated’ by the World Gold Council’s knowledge assortment agent, the London headquartered consultancy “Metals Focus”.

Because the WGC Gold Demand Tendencies report mentioned for 2022, central financial institution gold purchases had been “a mixture of reported purchases and a considerable estimate for unreported shopping for”. Since reported purchases in 2022 had been solely simply 412 tonnes, this left 670 tonnes within the ‘unreported shopping for’ class.

An analogous anomaly exists for 2023, a 12 months by which the World Gold Council Gold Demand Tendencies (GDT) 2023 report didn’t even tackle the unreported shopping for guestimates, however glossed over them. In that 12 months, reported central financial institution shopping for was 403 tonnes, which left a niche of a 634 tonnes within the unreported class.

Whereas ‘reported purchases’ are based mostly on precise central banks submitting gold buy knowledge to the Worldwide Financial Fund’s (IMF) Worldwide Monetary Statistics (IFS) database, ‘unreported shopping for’ is described by Metals Focus as “confidential info relating to unrecorded gross sales and purchases”. As such, this unreported shopping for can’t be verified and provides an absence of transparency to the information, since whereas Metals Focus claims it is aware of of those gold purchases, it gained’t present any particulars.

For a background on this inadequacy within the Metals Focus knowledge, see the BullionStar article from November 2022 titled “Gold Institution Helps Central Financial institution Secrecy”.

Nonetheless, the magnitude of those unreported central financial institution gold purchases is to be believed, it appears that evidently central banks have been spooked by elevated sanctions danger and the unprecedented confiscation of Russia’s FX reserves by US and G7 sanctions, and at the moment are more and more shopping for the last word financial asset which can’t be confiscated if saved of their dwelling nation nationwide vaults – gold.

Gold & Gold Receivables – Potential Double Counting

One other caveat when central financial institution gold shopping for knowledge and central financial institution gold holdings normally is that there isn’t a method to confirm the accuracy of the information as a) central banks don’t permit impartial bodily audits and b) the entire world of central financial institution gold lending is murky, the place Gold & Gold Receivables are counted as one line merchandise in central banks’ stability sheets, and the place central banks and their bullion financial institution counterparts intently guard knowledge on gold loans, swaps and leases. As such, there might be lots of ‘double counting’ happening within the central financial institution gold world, the place particular gold may be two or extra locations on the similar time.

Central Financial institution web gold shopping for – Reported and Unreported purchases, 2022 and 2023

Which Central Banks are Energetic as Gold Consumers?

Now, having been made conscious of those deficiencies in central financial institution gold shopping for and gold holdings knowledge, let’s take a look at the central banks which have been reporting gold shopping for over 2023 and into 2024. You will note that the development is usually considered one of rising markets, Jap patrons, and BRICS central banks dominating gold purchases, whereas Western central banks (besides these in Jap Europe) stay for probably the most half on the side-lines.

Individuals’s Financial institution of China

First up is the world’s foremost central financial institution gold purchaser – China. Via its central financial institution the Individuals’s Financial institution of China (PBoC), the Chinese language state has publicly and steadily been accumulating financial gold for 18 consecutive months now, every month saying gold purchases by way of its State Administration of Overseas Trade (SAFE).

Over that 18 month interval, China has formally added a colossal 316 tonnes to its gold reserves, taking its official complete from 1,948 tonnes of gold on the finish of October 2022, to 2,264 tonnes as of the top of April 2024. These large purchases allowed China to rank as the most important sovereign gold purchaser in 2023 (with 225 tonnes).

The qualification ‘official’ is used right here, for its very believable that China has been accumulating way more gold than 316 tonnes over 18 months, however that it is just revealing a sure share of its purchases.

Importantly, the timing of China starting to once more reveal will increase in its gold holding (which befell in December 2022 after a 3 12 months pause), coincided with the go to of China’s Xi Jinping to grease wealthy Saudi Arabia, a go to designed to strengthen Chinese language – Arab nation cooperation and to sign elevated independence from the West. For particulars see BullionStar article from January 2023 titled “Chinese language Central Financial institution Accumulating Gold Once more”.

The Polish Central Financial institution

The second largest central financial institution gold purchaser in 2023 was by Poland’s central financial institution, the Narodowy Financial institution Polski (NBP) which accrued a colossal 130 tonnes of gold final 12 months over an 8 month interval from April to November. This shopping for wouldn’t have come as a shock to BullionStar readers, as we predicted as a lot in August 2023, saying that the NBP would buy a minimum of 100 tonnes of gold throughout 2023. See BullionStar article “Poland’s 50-50 gold shopping for : 50 tonnes purchased over 3 months however one other 50 tonnes to go dated 2 August 2023

What was barely stunning was that the NBP didn’t cease at 100 tonnes, and continued to purchase gold throughout This fall 2023, ending the 12 months with a grand buy complete of 130 tonnes.

Financial Authority of Singapore (MAS)

The third largest sovereign gold purchaser in 2023 was Singapore’s central financial institution, the Financial Authority of Singapore (MAS) which accrued a web 76.3 tonnes of gold between January and December final 12 months, largely front-loaded in Q1. Other than its gold shopping for MAS additionally made headlines in 2023 when it for the primary time ever allowed a digital camera crew to movie inside its super-secret gold vault at an undisclosed location in Singapore. See BullionStar article from August 2023 titled “First Ever Filming of Singapore’s Tremendous-Secret Gold Reserves”.

Curiously, all three of China, Poland and Singapore have continued to make financial gold purchases throughout 2024, proving that their gold shopping for was not only a 2023 calendar 12 months phenomenon. The Individuals’s Financial institution of China added one other 29 tonnes of gold to its official reserves between January and April 2024. Poland’s central financial institution added one other 4.7 tonnes of gold over March and April 2024 (is now the world’s 14th largest sovereign gold holder, with a claimed 363 tonnes of financial gold)

And Singapore’s MAS introduced gold purchases 6.6 tonnes over February and March 2024. Which was the primary gold shopping for by MAS since September 2023.

Past these ‘Large 3’ of China, Poland and Singapore, many different central banks have been accumulating financial gold in 2023 and going into 2024.

Czech Republic – The Czech Nationwide Financial institution (CNB)

In Jap Europe, Poland’s neighbour the Czech Republic has been quietly and constantly multiplying its gold reserves since early 2023. This once more is not going to come as a shock to BullionStar readers, the place in Might 2022, we telegraphed the plans of the incoming Czech central financial institution governor Aleš Michl, to considerably increase the financial institution’s gold reserves.

I’ll suggest to have extra gold, from 11 tonnes to 100 and extra tonnes. Regularly, over a number of years. Gold is nice for diversification, it has zero correlation with shares.” – Czech Nationwide Financial institution (CNB), Aleš Michl, Might 2022

See BullionStar article “Czech Republic Joins Hungary & Poland in Gold Shopping for Binge”.

Quickly after Michl’s interview, the  Czech central financial institution gold shopping for programme started, and by December 2023 had purchased 19.8 tonnes of gold, adopted by one other 6.4 tonnes within the first 4 months of 2024, for a complete buy of 26.2 tonnes. See IMF database right here. To date, this Czech gold shopping for (which is now operating for 13 consecutive months) has greater than tripled the Czech Nationwide Financial institution’s (CNB) gold reserves from 11 tonnes to the present 37.2 tonnes.

Reported Central Financial institution Gold Purchases and Gross sales, 2023 – By Nation 

Reserve Financial institution of India (RBI)

Whereas India is known for its retail gold demand and the massive scale of gold imports to fulfill that demand, for some cause the Indian central financial institution’s gold shopping for, though massive and constant, doesn’t get as a lot media consideration as say the gold shopping for states reminiscent of China and Russia. Regardless of this low-key media curiosity, the Reserve Financial institution of India (RBI), India’s central financial institution, has constantly added over 260 tonnes to its gold reserves since 2018, and now formally holds 822 tonnes of gold, which places it in 9th place of the world’s largest sovereign gold holders.

After shopping for 42 tonnes of gold in 2020, 77 tonnes in 2021, 33 tonnes in 2022, however solely 16 tonnes in 2023, this 12 months appears extra just like the 2020-2022 period than 2023, for the RBI has already purchased 18.5 tonnes of gold throughout Q1 2024, which is greater than in all of 2023. Remembering that India, like China and Russia, is likely one of the 5 founding members of BRICS (and all three at the moment are among the many world’s prime 10 central financial institution gold holders), this gold accumulation technique by the RBI could also be a part of a longer-term coordinated geo-political technique to arrange for de-dollarisation.

The Turkish Central Financial institution

The Turkish central financial institution is an uncommon case in terms of gold holdings because it typically sells gold to the home market to assist meet native demand after which buys gold again once more later. This occurred in 2023 throughout a time when Turkish gold imports had been banned however native demand was sky excessive. As such, Turkish central financial institution gold holdings first fell considerably by about 100 tonnes throughout H1 2023, after which rose by the identical magnitude throughout H2 to depart the 12 months unchanged. Nonetheless, going into 2024, the Turkish central financial institution purchased one other 30 tonnes of gold throughout Q1, and now holds 570 tonnes.

North Africa and the Center East

Throughout the Arab world, there’s additionally a discernible development of many central banks now elevating their financial gold reserves.

In June 2023, the Central Financial institution of Libya introduced that it had bought 30 tonnes of gold by way of a one off month-on-month improve. Iraq’s central financial institution claims to have added 34 tonnes of gold in 2022, one other 12 tonnes in 2023, and one other 3 tonnes thus far in 2024, for a 3 12 months complete of 49 tonnes.

Inside the Gulf area, Qatar (a Gulf Cooperation Council (GC) member alongside with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait) has been constantly shopping for gold since 2022, and has accrued 46 tonnes of gold since early 2022, bringing its gold reserves to over 100 tonnes now. See for instance BullionStar article “Qatar Ramps Up Gold Reserves as World Cup Approaches” from September 2022. Elsewhere within the GCC area, the Central Financial institution of Oman has been a purchaser of 4.4 tonnes of gold thus far in 2024. Oman had no financial gold reserves earlier than 2022, and now has 6.7 tonnes in complete.


The final time that Russia introduced vital month-to-month purchases of gold was over the March and April 2022 interval, across the time of the Russian invasion of east Ukraine. Since then there have been few updates to Russia’s gold holdings, besides sporadic bulletins of month-to-month gross sales or purchases of about 100,000 ozs (3.1 tonnes) at varied instances, together with for March and April 2024. However this doesn’t imply that Russia hasn’t been persevering with to build up gold. Simply that it hasn’t publicly revealed such purchases.

Central Asian Republics

One other group of central banks which usually seem as actively transacting in gold are the central banks of Central Asian republics Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. It is because these banks incessantly purchase and promote gold from home manufacturing. The gold shopping for and promoting by every of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan is extra affected by home elements than anything, and so they may simply as simply be shopping for as promoting in any given month. These transactions skew the general central financial institution gold shopping for knowledge and might typically present up as web promoting. For instance, Uzbekistan web bought 38 tonnes of gold between the 15 month of January 2023 by way of to March 2024 however was a purchaser for six of those months and a vendor for the opposite 9 months. Kazakhstan web bought 57.5 tonnes of gold in 2023, however then was a web purchaser of 16.5 tonnes of gold throughout Q1 2024.

There may be additionally some central financial institution gold shopping for that isn’t recognised by the World Gold Council merely as a result of it isn’t reported to the IMF. This contains gold shopping for by the central financial institution of Mongolia, which for instance reported that it purchased 14.2 tonnes of gold from native gold producers in the course of the first ten months of 2023.

Central Financial institution Gold Shopping for Tendencies

Inside reported central financial institution gold shopping for knowledge, various traits are observable. Lots of the main central financial institution patrons are from rising markets in Asia and the Center East, reminiscent of China, India, Turkey, Libya and Qatar. A number of the largest gold patrons are members of BRICS, reminiscent of China and India.

The one OECD members nations publicly shopping for gold are Poland, the Czech Republic, and Turkey. As regards Poland and Czech, though they within the European Union (EU), they challenge their very own fiat currencies and usually are not within the Eurozone, so have extra leeway in pursuing gold accumulation methods in comparison with Eurozone members. Lastly, its extremely notable that the normal Western central banks and G7 nations usually are not shopping for gold, and haven’t been patrons of gold for a few years now.

In line with the World Gold Council / Metals Focus, there’s presently (since 2022) way more ‘unreported shopping for’ of gold by central banks than ‘reported shopping for’ that’s tracked within the IMF IFS database.

Who may these unreported patrons be, in the event that they do all actually exist? They may most probably be central banks from World South nations, a time period which covers massive swath of the creating world. They may in all probability be nations that are petrified of US / G7 sanctions and so need to rotate their financial reserves out of G7 currencies and bonds and into counterparty danger free property, gold being the logical alternative.

‘Non reporting’ central banks may additionally embrace central banks from nations affiliated with organisations reminiscent of BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and the Eurasian Financial Union (EAEU).

Central Banks’ Motivations for Shopping for Gold

A latest “Central Financial institution Gold Reserves Survey” printed by the World Gold Council in 2023 backs up these observations concerning the enthusiasm of rising markets central banks for gold.

Reflecting the responses of 59 of the world’s central banks, the survey captures the mixed views of those banks concerning the function of gold of their respective financial reserves (gold and international alternate being the 2 largest elements of financial reserves)..

Survey respondents mentioned that Rate of interest ranges, inflation considerations and geopolitical instability had been crucial themes of their choices to carry gold as a a reserve asset, and moreover “shifts in international financial energy” was highlighted as an essential theme by rising market central banks. The survey additionally discovered that over 70% of central banks responding mentioned that their gold reserves would improve over the following 12 months.

In comparison with developed nation central banks, a far increased share of rising market central banks suppose that gold’s share of worldwide reserves will probably be increased in 5 years time, and that the US greenback’s share of worldwide reserves will probably be decrease in 5 years time. On condition that rising market central banks have been the primary central financial institution patrons of gold for the final decade, it’s not stunning that these banks are comparatively optimistic about gold in comparison with the US greenback.

As to why central banks maintain gold, the highest six causes said by central financial institution respondents had been – so as of significance – 1) “historic place” (77% of respondents saying that this issue it’s extremely related or considerably related), adopted by 2) “gold’s efficiency throughout instances of disaster” (74%), 3) “gold is a long-term retailer of worth / inflation hedge” (74%), 4) “gold is an efficient portfolio diversifier” (70%), 5) “gold has no default danger” (68%), and 6) “gold serves as a geopolitical diversifier” (58%).

Close to causes 2-6 above for holding gold, a far increased share of rising market central banks thought-about these causes as related, once more exhibiting that rising market central banks think about gold to be a extremely strategic geopolitical asset and a monetary insurance coverage asset within the present surroundings of elevated geopolitical dangers amid the shift to a multipolar worldwide financial system on the expense of the US greenback.

One other fascinating research, printed in February 2024, is the World Financial institution’s “Gold Investing Handbook for Asset Managers”, which additionally recognises that “gold continues to play a vital function within the international monetary system, serving as a hedge in opposition to inflation, a protected haven asset, and a reserve asset for central banks

This research additionally highlights the development we’re seeing that “superior economies have been diversifying away from gold reserves, whereas rising markets have been steadily growing their holdings”, which it says is being pushed by rising market central banks diversifying into gold attributable to “low rates of interest on main reserves currencies”.

However importantly, the World Financial institution research additionally recognises that perceived geopolitical danger is driving rising markets to extend their gold holdings, stating that:

“reserve managers in rising markets have a tendency to extend their gold holdings when there’s a danger of monetary sanctions. The biggest will increase in gold holdings by central banks typically happen when the banks anticipate or face monetary sanctions.”

Particularly, each the quantity and the worth of gold reserves [of emerging market central banks] are likely to rise in response to sanctions imposed by main economies such because the Euro Space, Japan, the UK, or america, in both the present or the instantly previous years.”

Some examples of central banks growing their gold reserves attributable to sanctions are the central banks of Russia, Belarus and Turkey. Nevertheless it has been the sanctions in opposition to Russia which have actually made rising market central banks actually sit up and take discover.

This has, says the World Financial institution authors, created a view that the world is transitioning from a Bretton Woods II period (which was backed by treasury bonds which have confiscation dangers that may’t be hedged), to a Bretton Woods III period (to be backed by gold bullion and different commodities). That is the speculation first put ahead by Zoltan Pozsar.

Beneath this view, “Russian sanctions create incentives for central banks to desert the greenback in favor of gold, and for governments to money of their greenback reserves for shares of different commodities [including gold]”.


With annual central financial institution gold purchases of between 1000 – 1100 tonnes in every of 2022 and 2023, with “unreported” central financial institution gold shopping for in every of these years being within the vary of 600 – 700 tonnes, this ongoing surge in central financial institution gold purchases (a lot of it clandestine) factors to a big shift within the worldwide financial panorama by the central banks of rising markets, with a strategic transfer in the direction of gold and away from the US greenback as a reserve asset.

There are various potential candidates for the central banks which might be shopping for gold however not reporting it. Whereas China does report a few of its gold purchases, that is in all probability the tip of the iceberg and the Chinese language state is most probably shopping for way more gold than it claims to be. One other candidate is Russia, which has been below intensifying Western sanctions the place it might be silly for the Financial institution of Russia and different Russian state entities to announce in the event that they had been shopping for gold.
Extra unreported gold patrons might be oil wealthy states reminiscent of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a part of a technique to scale back dependence on the US greenback, and keep in mind each of those nations at the moment are members of BRICS.

Then there are different nations that are additionally dealing with western Sanctions and heightened geopolitical dangers, reminiscent of Iran and North Korea, which too might be quietly accumulating gold and are among the many ‘unreported patrons’ inside the Metals Focus / World Gold Council numbers.

Regardless of the shortage of transparency in unreported gold purchases, the substantial and sustained improve in central banks’ gold reserves highlights bodily gold’s enduring function as a protected haven asset that has no counterparty danger. This gold shopping for dynamic is prone to proceed, and certainly central banks themselves say it’s going to proceed, because it displays a broader transfer in the direction of a multipolar monetary system the place gold performs a central function in preserving nationwide wealth in opposition to geopolitical dangers, whereas probably being a part of a brand new worldwide commerce settlement system.