Readers of Der Spiegel comment:Those sneaky Americans just can't be trusted.

Like many countries, Germany stores much of its gold reserves abroad at important world gold markets like New York and London. It hasn’t reached the English language press to my knowledge yet, but in response to domestic political pressure the Bundesbank, or German central bank, is making plans to bring much of this foreign-stored gold back to native soil. Well and good, it’s certainly their right to do so, even if it seems rather impractical. For the cost of transporting it, you’d think we could all put our heads together and devise an improved auditing and control system that would make everyone happy. But it is their gold, after all. And

Their central bankers are emphasizing that it is not because of any lack of confidence in the foreign central banks in whose custody this gold currently resides, particularly the FRB of New York, where the largest share of offshore Bundesbank gold is held. Other German gold, also to be returned, is stored in London and Paris. I have little reason to doubt them.

Link (in German)
What I object to are the insulting attitudes of many of the readers who comment on the story. “Will the gold still be there?” some ask. Because, you know, we’re flat broke and on the point of appropriating foreign-owned gold at the NY Fed. One reader says–somewhat inaccurately:

From another, in response to an earlier poster who rues the fact that it’s 50 years almost to the day since the Elysee Accord between Germany and France was signed, and the hatchet, so to speak, finally buried:

Should Poland be getting nervous?

Wait, it gets better:

And this:

I’m just a bit uncomfortable with this.

Others wonder if we’ve swapped some of the gold for bricks of gold-plated lead or tungsten. Come to think of it, NYC was where the original fake goldbrick scam was invented, as well as the suggestion of selling the Brooklyn Bridge. You really have to watch us every second, lazy, fat, and dependent on imported Chinese electronics as we are.

And my favorite:

Well, at least until the world’s elite consumers can no longer afford so many German luxury goods.

In some ways many progressive Americans do envy the Germans, but if anyone thinks that’s a typical attitude I have a bridge I’d like to sell them. Or maybe a goldbrick.

Apart from the body-blow insults, none of this makes any sense, in any case. How might the Germans’ gold have been stolen in any case? How would such an international swindle be carried out? If the NYC Fed, for example, were to “steal” two tons of German gold, it would have to book the transaction somehow, because otherwise there’d be no way to exploit it. And to account for this “new” gold, wouldn’t they have to enter a corresponding reduction in another asset account, or else increase the note issue? Either way it has to be tracked and accounted for. Since the early 1970s, the amount of gold owned by the United States government has been the same, and has been carried on the books at the long-outdated price of $42/oz (this works out to about $11B). This figure is repeated in introductory textbooks on banking and is probably known to every central bank in the world. There’s no way one of the FRBs can say, “Hey look! We undercounted, and on review we find that we have $13B worth of gold at the 1972 price. Lucky us!”. But no. We cannot simply announce that we have come into the possession of an additional half-billion dollars worth of gold, any more than I could show up somewhere with a ton of gold bars and sell it to a jewelry buyer.

Germans. Early every century they start up with the attitude…

Comments on articles in online news papers or magazines are always full of stupidity. German examples being no different, it seems.

For an English-language article about this story:

So, at some point in the near future, there’s going to be a fairly enormous convoy and shipload of gold bars wending its way through the streets of New York and across the Atlantic Ocean?

Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker!

Yeah I read about this on the BBC … It conforting to know that German commentors are no brighter than English speaking ones by and large.

What does it say about us that those were my precise first thoughts too?

I’ll start working on the script.

Gold is clearly one of the deadliest substances known to humanity; it can cause brain damage by heavy metal poisoning all the way across the ocean.

Yes, Germans don’t trust non-Germans and think that some mysterious group of people runs the world financial system and lusts after all the German gold. What else is new.

Even though Der Spiegel is a respectable publication, please do not take the comments on the articles as a representative sample of the German psyche. Otherwise I shall be forced to equate the US with the YouTube comment section and Yahoo! Answers.

This. Oh yes, this.
I am rather surprised it apparently needs to be said though, especially on this board.

I had to the pleasure of touring the Federal Reserve many years ago. Fascinating stuff.

All the gold is piled into the vault, clearly laid out for different countries. When one country makes a transfer to another country, someone goes down and moves it from one place to another.

I got to hold a bar of gold in my hand. At the time (late 80s) we were told it was worth 280K.

The man giving the tour was high-up in the IT department and related to one of people with us. He said that when he started, they were using computers that had 4K of RAM on them. 4K to run the entire Federal Reserve. (I have 10gig in my desktop.)

I don’t dispute that, but I expected better of this magazine’s readership.

That would be like expecting better of this board’s readership.

Disappointment always follows such folly. :stuck_out_tongue:

The comments are stupid.

The Germans kept most of their gold in the US, Britain and France during the cold war for safekeeping as well as their monetary trading needs. In the event of a Soviet Invasion, their gold reserves would a> Not fall into Soviet hands, and b> Be available for purchase of hardware to reclaim/rebuild their nation.

Now, 20+ years past all this nonsense, it only makes sense that they begin housing the bulk of it within their own borders.

Move along, nothing to see here. Expected, rational behavior. No Derp required or needed.

Alvays belief in your zoul.
You’f gott der power to knöw
You’re interztructible!
Alvays belief in…

-Shpandau Ballot

The entire idea of needing gold reserves in the modern era is basically a superstition, so I guess its not super surprising that the reserves themselves attract irrational conspiracy theories, in the US as well as Germany (one of the first things Eisenhower did on becoming President was order an auditing of US gold-reserves to appease nuts in the GOP that thought FDR and Truman had been stealing).

Still, seems like a waste of money. I wonder what it costs to transport 600 tons of Gold from the US to Germany?

I just checked the FedEx website. The cost for shipping 2,000 pounds from NY to Frankfurt is $16,962 (Priority) or $11,352 (Economy), assuming FedEx pickup. You can get it slightly cheaper if you drop it off yourself. So somewhere in the neighborhood of $6 - $10 million. Prior approval required for shipping over 2,200 pounds.

First they bomb Pearl Harbor, now this!

Actually, there is a reason not to: they’re a decent chance they’ll have to turn around and send it back in a few years.

One of the advantages of having the gold reserves there, IIUC, is that countries can basically have it moved at a moment’s notice to another country’s vault. Sure, it’s msotly done electronically these days anyway, but the same could be done even in the Cold War by slightly more primitive methods. So if for any reason germany needs to move some gold to England, well, they’re likely not going to send it to London. The Bank of England (or other responsible party, as IANAE on British finance) will tell them to ship it right back to New York, and tell the germans to suck the cost since they didn’t have to move it in the first place.

In theory, you could have the gold reserve anywhere. But precisely because it’s there right now and nobody can get at it as-is, the FedNY is a really good choice.

On a side note, Der Spiegel may be respectable, but I’ve found it to be more pretentious than deep. Whenever commenting on international affairs. To the extent that I understand things, I usually consider its analysese to be shallow, self-important, and usually ignorant. It aspires to be Time, but manages to be Newsweek. Certainly, the editors do not seem to like America or Americans, although it’s not so much any specific issue as the general distaste of elite Western European opinion-makers. Your mileage may vary, as I don’t read it regularly, and not anymore anyway, but it’s only worthwhile for its internal German views, not for anything beyond its borders.

This is in contrast to the BBC, whose judgement I may disagree with, or even think blatantly biased or even silly, but which I can generally trust to report facts more than their whims. If I see a BBC international story, I can trust (mostly) that they have a reasonable understanding of the situation and aren’t just expressing how much they dislike somebody.

They could do that. But I don’t think countries really bother transferring gold back and forth anymore. There isn’t really any point: if Germany wants to pay the US a million dollars, they do it by wiring us a million dollars (or equivalent Euros). There isn’t really a reason to send someone to the basement to move a million dollars of gold from one stack to the other.

I suspect that’s part of the reason for transferring the gold back. The old reason for keeping it in New York is defunct. Granted, there isn’t really much more reason to have a stack of gold sitting in Berlin either.