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Is U.S. Buying Back its Own Gold
By Patrick A. Heller

On April 16, U.S. President Obama wrote a letter to congressional leadership seeking support for the U.S. government to loan the International Monetary Fund $100 billion. This is part of a plan for the IMF to expand its New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) program from $50 billion to $500 billion.

President Obama is portraying this loan as an investment rather than an expenditure when he stated in the letter, "Such participation effectively represents an exchange of assets rather than a budgetary expenditure, and it will not result in budgetary outlays or any increase in the deficit. That is because when the United States transfers dollars to the IMF under the NAB, the United States receives in exchange another monetary asset in the form of a liquid, interest-bearing claim on the IMF, which is backed by the IMF's strong financial position, including its significant holdings of gold."

The supposed purpose of the increase in the NAB is to help combat worldwide financial crises. The United States would provide 20 percent of the assets for this purpose. China has already committed to lend $40 billion.

There is a small chance that the difficult-to-understand language in President Obama's letter could be taken at face value.

But, I don't really think so. There are a lot of implications to this proposed loan beyond what appears on the surface.

There is growing pressure on the IMF to actually sell some or all of its supposed gold holdings. If this pressure becomes strong enough that action is taken, there are a number of potential problems that could be exposed:

" The IMF does not physically hold the gold. It has been pledged by member nations who, in theory, have delivered the gold to one of four countries designated as depositories. The United States and United Kingdom are two of the designated depositories. It is entirely possible that one or more nations might, if called to turn over their gold, default on delivering their gold commitment.

" Although the IMF tries to pretend that it audits the gold holdings, it then immediately contradicts itself by reporting that holdings in depositories are not audited by the IMF.

" There is significant suspicion that some of the gold pledged to the IMF has been leased. If the IMF were to try to sell it, that could force the recall of some gold leases.

" It is also possible that some of the gold pledged to the IMF has conflicting ownership claims.

" The IMF only theoretically has 3,217 tons of gold, which at $920 gold spot is worth only $95 billion. Where would be the collateral for the other $400 billion of planned borrowings?

I'm not saying that there is any outright proof of the existence of any of these above problems. However, when the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee made multiple attempts to clarify the nature of IMF gold holdings. The IMF's answers simply did not respond to the questions asked by GATA. If there were no problems with any of these issues, I would have expected the IMF to make straight statements to that effect.

Another implication is that the U.S. government is holding the gold it has pledged to the IMF as part of the collateral for the "loan." At the most extreme, this may be a sneaky way for the U.S. government to accomplish two goals - increasing its gold position by reducing its gold liability to the IMF and increasing its physical reserves, and to latch on to IMF gold rather than let China purchase all of it. Under these scenarios, the "loan" would never be repaid in U.S. dollars.

If the U.S. government is really trying to find a way to acquire more gold, and trying to do so in a way that the public does not know about, the implication is that, at today's levels, the U.S. dollar is significantly overvalued. Also implied is that gold is underpriced today.

The known fact is that President Obama has asked congressional leaders to pass legislation to enable this $100 billion loan. The rest is speculation as to what is really occurring, when placed in the context of all the other global financial calamities.

 



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