Is Gold Bullion Shipped Internationally?

Years ago, i read that gold bullion stays (largely) in central banks, because the cost of insurance (of shipping it internationally) is very high. I also remember that most of the US’s bullion is not in Ft. Knox-but in the basement vault of the Federal Reserve Bank (NYC). When the Central Bank of France (for example) wants to convert some of its dollar holdings into gold, a notation is made in the account books, and a forklift operator transfers the appropriate amount of gold from the pile marked “USA” to the pile marked “France”.
Is this how it is done?

Yes, gold bullion is shipped internationally, for jewelry making, for instance. India and the UAE are examples of countries that would import gold.

Most of the bullion in the US is in the NY Fed’s vault. But most of the “US’s gold” in the sense of gold owned by the US gov’t is in Ft. Knox. Something like 90% of the gold in the NY Fed is owned by foreign countries and international organizations.

Other then that, the answer to your post is yes. When countries transfer gold (which I don’t think they really bother to do much of anymore), it just gets moved from one pile to the other in the basement of the NY Fed, or some other central bank vault.

There was a story from a couple of months ago about Germany wanting to repatriate over 600 tons of its gold from the New York Fed (and from Paris) back to Germany. (Cue tons of “Die Hard” jokes on the Internet, including from me, of course.)

I hadn’t heard any follow up on the story, but I guess there are obvious reasons why they wouldn’t be sending out Tweets with detailed info on the exact location and progress of the enormous convoys of gold bars heading across Manhattan and out into the Atlantic.

Thanks…I am reminded of the Yap Islanders-who use enormous stone discs as currency-these are exceedingly difficult to transport-so they stay where they are (even ones on the bottom of the sea)-but are trusted by their owners to represent wealth.
Does anybody periodically check the gold bars? Suppose you came in and substituted gold plated lead bars-how long before it would be discovered?

A few years ago, the Royal Canadian Mint did an audit of their gold supply and it was off by a mere $15 million! According to the article, they were checking it every six months but the auditors recommended checking every three months.

Yes, the various countries that store gold in the NY Fed’s vault periodically engage in transactions with one another. The gold is kept in in individual cages for each country (they are not marked with the country’s name, however). If two countries want to exchange gold for some reason then they authorize Fed personnel to physically move the gold from one cage to another in order to effectuate the transfer.

I recal the story of the German gold from some time ago, but, as it’s already been brought up, there’sd no point in repeating it.

I’ll just observe that the Sherlock Holmes story The Red-Headed League involves, at the end, just such a shipment of gold (in the form of coins sanwiched between sheets of gold) from France being stored in a British bank vault. So the practice (I assume Doyle was basing his case on things actually happening in the London of his day) has been around for well over a century

About the same value that was lost from the strategic maple syrup reservelast year. I smell laundering.

They store them floating in water. If there’s any irregularity, a naked man runs out through the streets of New York shouting “Eureka.”

The Department of the Treasury audited the US-owned gold in the New York Federal Reserve last year. The article says, “Auditors drilled tiny holes into the bars to remove samples that were tested for fineness in a process called assaying.” The article also says that they plan to do this annually. As to your suggestion of replacing the bars with gold-plated lead ones, presumably weighing them would reveal the tampering.

Foreign governments typically send representatives to observe transfers between their country and another, so maybe they inspect for this type of thing as well. The last time I visited the vault a large group of about a dozen middle eastern men, presumably a couple of dignitaries and their security detail based on the way they interacted with each other, exited the elevator that leads down to the vault as I was waiting to get in (there’s only one elevator that goes all the way down there). My slightly educated guess is that these people were there here to check up on their country’s gold.