China’s coming dominance of world gold markets is apparently, according to a report in Bloomberg, being fueled by “aunties.” Middle aged women who prefer to invest in something they can wear and transport, rather than property or stocks. This type of dual purpose investment in gold jewelry has been driving India’s world leadership of gold for years. But as we mentioned in August, China will soon overtake India as the world’s largest gold consumer.
But part of the reason India has slowed its consumption is the result of draconian import rules the government has implemented to prop up the value of the rupee. We mentioned in August that countries around India were seeing increases in their gold imports, implying smuggling was taking place. That theory has been confirmed. Today officials in India confirmed that $1 million worth of gold bars were found stashed in an airplane bathroom as it headed from Bangkok to its final destination of Patna, India. That’s the second time smuggled gold has been found in an airplane lavatory in a month! Obviously, the Indians are disregarding their government’s call to cut back on gold purchases.
Major shifts in gold are continuing around the world. Following on the heels of Germany’s announcement that it will repatriate much of its gold reserves from around the world earlier this year, Switzerland is taking a vote on the same plan. A popular referendum forced by a campaign that gathered 100,000 signatures has put a measure up for a vote in Switzerland that would bring the country’s gold reserves home. The new law would also prohibit the Swiss National Bank from selling its gold, and force it to hold 20 percent of its assets in gold. The vote follows a World Gold Council report that “For the 11th consecutive quarter, central banks were net buyers of gold, purchasing 93t.”
Massive flows of gold are heading to China and India for jewelry consumption and individual investment. At the same time central banks are bringing their gold home and in some cases, like Russia, making them a more integral part of their reserves.