NPR logo Governments Stock Up On Gold

Governments Stock Up On Gold

The IMF is selling off some of its gold stash, and governments and central banks are buying.

The IMF sold about 15 tons of gold in April, Bloomberg News says. With gold trading at about $1,200 an ounce, that's roughly $600 million dollars in gold.

The fund has been selling some of its gold on the open market this year as part of a plan to create an endowment. In all, the IMF plans to sell just over 400 tons of gold, or roughly one-eighth of its total holdings. That should bring in more than $8 billion in total, the WSJ says.

Meanwhile, central banks and governments have been stocking up. Worldwide, governments and central banks added 425 tons last year to their holdings, which now total more than 30,000 tons. That's the most since 1964 and the first expansion since 1988, Bloomberg says. And holdings are likely to grow again this year.

The price of gold, of course, has gone through the roof in the past couple years. People say it's a "store of value" — that is, a place to put your money when you're nervous about inflation, which drives down the value of paper money.

A ton of gold, by the way, would be a cube that's about 1'3" on each side. That's why people who work with gold bricks have to wear special boots, to protect their feet from falling gold.