Commodities & Metals

The 10 Nations That Own the Most Gold

7. Switzerland
> Tonnes: 1,040.0
> Pct. reserves: 7%
> GDP (rank): $444.70 billion (40)

Switzerland may have a checkered history around selling gold, when prices were low during Central Bank Gold Agreements selling, and then in 2014 its voters rejected a call to expand its gold reserves from 7% to 20% of reserves. Still, Switzerland’s formal statistics around its gold are more than impressive, even when you consider it is the world’s banking center. The nation created a financial shock when it surprisingly unpegged the Swiss franc against the euro in early 2015. Now it seems that Switzerland will have to hold on to its remaining gold as a result of the devaluation and financial losses. Switzerland may be the seventh largest nation holding gold, but its global economic ranking is only 40th in the world by GDP, and its population of 8.1 million people is ranked only 96th in the world.

8. Japan
> Tonnes: 765.2
> Pct. reserves: 2%
> GDP (rank): $4.81 trillion (4)

Despite all the quantitative easing measures, Japan has had a static gold supply for years now. Japan’s gold is also just 2% of foreign reserves as well. That low reserve ratio could become a real problem in the decades ahead if (or when) its aging population trends run into problems dealing with its debt-to-GDP, which now is about 230%. Japan wants to grow its economy in any way it can, hence the never-ending quantitative easing.

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9. Netherlands
> Tonnes: 612.5
> Pct. reserves: 57%
> GDP (rank): $798.10 billion (27)

The Netherlands has been a long-time owner of gold as one of the wealthier nations in the world. It seems impressive to still be ranked ninth in the list of nations holding gold when its GDP ranking is 27th and when its small population of almost 17 million ranks only 66th in the world. Not bad for a nation that seems to be the poster-boy for riding bikes to work. The Netherlands was a seller of gold from 2002 to 2008 under Central Bank Gold Agreements. Since then it has held its gold tight.

10. India
> Tonnes: 557.7
> Pct. reserves: 6%
> GDP (rank): $7.28 trillion (3)

India has held up better in its recovery than China, but India has a mixed recent history with gold. It handily ramped up gold holdings in recent years, before gold prices went through the roof, but then it also had strong regulations and import taxes on gold, which recently have been removed. Consumers in India love gold, perhaps more than people in any other major nation. In 2009 India bought 200 tonnes of gold from the IMF to bolster its reserves. While India’s central bank probably needs more gold holdings for its 1 billion population, it sees that if India will not spend enough on infrastructure build-outs, then it will not bother buying more gold either.

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Data on tonnes held by each central bank, changes from the Central Bank Gold Agreements and the percentage of central bank reserves was taken from the World Gold Council. GDP data and rankings of population were from the CIA World Factbook.

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