Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Fed's "Gold Certificate Account"

The Federal Reserve just tweeted,

 Here's the full release:
Does the Federal Reserve own or hold gold?
The Federal Reserve does not own gold. 
The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 required the Federal Reserve System to transfer ownership of all of its gold to the Department of the Treasury. In exchange, the Secretary of the Treasury issued gold certificates to the Federal Reserve for the amount of gold transferred at the then-applicable statutory price for gold held by the Treasury.
Gold certificates are denominated in U.S. dollars. Their value is based on the statutory price for gold at the time the certificates are issued. Gold certificates do not give the Federal Reserve any right to redeem the certificates for gold.
The statutory price of gold is set by law. It does not fluctuate with the market price of gold and has been constant at $42 2/9, or $42.2222, per fine troy ounce since 1973. The book value of the gold held by the Treasury is determined using the statutory price.
Although the Federal Reserve does not own any gold, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York acts as the custodian of gold owned by account holders such as the U.S. government, foreign governments, other central banks, and official international organizations. No individuals or private sector entities are permitted to store gold in the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or at any Federal Reserve Bank. 
A small portion of the gold held by the U.S. Treasury (roughly $600 million in book value)--about five percent--is held in custody for the Treasury by the Federal Reserve Banks, as fiscal agents of the United States. The vast majority of this gold is located in the vault at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and a very small portion is on display in several Federal Reserve Banks. The remaining 95 percent of U.S. Treasury gold ($10.4 billion in book value) is held in custody for the Treasury by the U.S. Mint. 
As the $11 billion in gold certificates reported in Fed accounts is based on the statutory price of $42 2/9 per ounce, the current market value of these certificates based on the price today of $1,390/oz is $362.1 billion. As the Fed's reported Total Assets were more than $3.644 trillion as of 28 August, the gold certificate account hence represents 9.94% of the Fed's reported total assets.

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