The United States Bullion Depository, commonly called Fort Knox, is a fortified vault building located adjacent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, which is used to store a large portion of United States official gold reserves and, occasionally, other precious items belonging or entrusted to the federal government.
The United States Bullion Depository holds about 4,603 tons (4,176 metric tonnes) of gold bullion (147.4 million troy ounces). It is second in the United States only to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York‘s underground vault in Manhattan, which holds about 5,000 metric tonnes of gold in trust for many foreign nations, central banks and official international organizations.
In 1933, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102, which outlawed the private ownership of gold coins, gold bullion, and gold certificates by American citizens, forcing them to sell all such products to the Federal Reserve. As a result, the value of the gold held by the Federal Reserve increased from $4 billion to $12 billion between 1933 and 1937.
This left the federal government with a large gold reserve and no place to store it. In 1936, the U.S. Treasury Department began construction of the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on land transferred from the military. The Gold Vault was completed in December 1936 at a cost of US$560,000, or about $8.5 million in 2009 dollars. The site is located on what is now Bullion Boulevard at the intersection of Gold Vault Road.
The first gold shipments were made from January to July 1937. The majority of the United States’ gold reserves were gradually shipped to the site, including old bullion and more newly made bars made from melted gold coins. Some intact coins were stored as well. The transfer needed 500 rail cars and was sent by registered mail, protected by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
GATA today scored a small but perhaps auspicious victory over the Federal Reserve in our lawsuit seeking access to the Fed’s secret gold files. The judge presiding over GATA’s federal freedom-of-information lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Ellen Segal Huvelle, granted GATA’s motion to order the Fed to produce in complete form for the judge’s private review 20 gold-related documents the Fed has sought to keep secret. The judge ordered the Fed to deliver the documents by Friday.
Through its lawyers, William J. Olson P.C. of Vienna, Virginia — www.LawAndFreedom.com — GATA has argued that the Fed’s production of gold-related documents has been so inadequate and the Fed’s arguments for keeping them secret so weak that the court should review the documents acknowledged by the Fed and order the Fed to answer 25 questions from GATA about the Fed’s search for relevant information.
While Judge Huvelle still could grant at any time the Fed’s motion to dismiss GATA’s lawsuit, her ruling today at least implies a little skepticism about the Fed and its tactics. Combined with today’s statement by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, the new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Monetary Policy (SEE BELOW), Judge Huvelle’s ruling gives hope that the Fed’s enormous secret power to rig markets and bestow the most fantastic patronage on a parasitic financial elite can be brought to account eventually.
The judge’s order to the Fed to produce documents for her private review can be found at GATA’s Internet site here:
Those who are skeptical of GATA’s complaint that the Federal Reserve is part of an international gold-price rigging scheme should reflect on the meaning of the Fed’s refusal to disclose all its gold-related records, records that include gold swap arrangements with foreign banks:
If the U.S. gold reserves are just sitting somewhere, inert, unencumbered, and unused for surreptitious market intervention, what’s the problem with full disclosure?
Financial journalists unafraid of aggravating the world’s financial powers should start putting gold-related questions to the Fed and other central banks and stop simply assuming that secrecy should be the normal order of things with central banks and gold.
And people everywhere who believe in free markets in the monetary metals and who have not already supported GATA financially can join our struggle here:
This struggle could have been undertaken easily and likely more effectively by the World Gold Council, which aims to represent gold mining companies and gold investors. But the council’s indifference to questions of surreptitious central bank intervention in the gold market has left the struggle to GATA. We need your help to pursue this struggle to victory for free markets, limited government, and a better, fairer world.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
A gold reserve is the gold held by a central bank or nation intended as a store of value and as a guarantee to redeem promises to pay depositors, note holders (e.g., paper money), or trading peers, or to secure a currency.
Today, gold reserves are almost exclusively, albeit rarely, used in the settlement of international transactions. At the end of 2004, central banks and investment funds held 19% of all above-ground gold as bank reserve assets.
It has been estimated that all the gold mined by the end of 2009 totaled 165,000 tonnes. At a price of US$1000/oz., exceeded in 2008 and 2009, one tonne of gold has a value of approximately US$32.15 million. The total value of all gold ever mined would exceed US$5,000 trillion at that valuation.
As of June 2009, the International Monetary Fund held 3,217 tonnes (103.4 million oz.) of gold, which had been constant for several years. In Fall 2009, the IMF announced that it will sell one eighth of its holdings, a maximum of 12,965,649 fine troy ounces (403.3 tonnes) based on a new income model agreed upon in April 2008, and subsequently announced the sale of 200 tonnes to India, 10 tonnes to Sri Lanka, a further 10 Metric tonnes of Gold was also sold to the Central Bank of Bangladesh in September 2010 and 2 tonnes to the Bank of Mauritius. These gold sales were conducted in stages at prevailing market prices.
The IMF maintains an internal book value of its gold that is far below market value. In 2000, this book value was SDR 35, or about US$47 per troy ounce. An attempt to revalue the gold reserve to today’s value has met resistance for different reasons. For example, Canada is against the idea of revaluing the reserve, as it may be a prelude to selling the gold on the open market and therefore depressing gold prices.
forex reserves (%)
|89||Papua New Guinea||2.0||2.9%|
|90||Trinidad and Tobago||1.9||0.8%|
|100||Central African Republic||0.3||8.4%|
|102||Republic of the Congo||0.3||0.4%|
Congressman Ron Paul
Last week the 112th Congress was sworn in. I am pleased that I will be chairing the Monetary Policy Subcommittee of the Financial Services Committee, which has oversight of the Federal Reserve. Obviously, this position will facilitate my efforts to ensure the Fed provides the American people with more information about what they have been doing with and to our money. Not surprisingly, since my chairmanship was announced, apologists for the Fed have been recycling the old canard about how increased transparency threatens the Fed’s so-called political independence.
By independence, they are referring to the Fed’s ability to greatly impact the economy with virtually no meaningful oversight. We only recently learned that the bankers at the Fed were able to use the latest financial crisis to bail out Wall Street cronies and foreign central banks with billions of dollars that were created and wasted, instead of appropriated and voted on by representatives of the people.
The Fed and its supporters in Congress vehemently fought even this small bit of transparency and without this one-time provision in the financial reform act forcing disclosure, we would still not have this information. Indeed, we are in the dark on so much of what the Fed has done. This is extremely dangerous for our country, yet this power and secrecy is defended as some kind of public good, which is patently ridiculous.
Our government is based on a system of checks and balances. With no check on the Fed, it is no surprise it has thrown the economy wildly off balance. The solution is not to re-inflate the bubbles the Fed created, or to continue to devalue the currency, or to throw billions at failing banks and corporations. The solution is to return sanity and freedom to monetary policy. Forcing the entire country to use a medium of exchange that is subject to the whims of elite bankers and their cronies on Wall Street is not sanity. Hoping that an unchecked, all-powerful, behemoth banking cartel will solve any economic problem is not sanity.
The problems the Fed was originally created to solve now look miniscule compared to the problems it has created. If “political independence” erodes the purchasing power of the currency by 98%, destabilizes the economy with radical booms and busts, all while increasing unemployment and tipping us ever closer to hyperinflation, perhaps it is time to try a little transparency and accountability instead. Better still – we should try giving the people true economic freedom.
Make no mistake: the Fed is not truly independent of political pressure. Its chair is appointed by the president, and it is a creature of Congress. Congress has a duty, albeit a neglected one, to exercise oversight of the Fed. However, even if it was politically independent, it is not independent of the influences of Wall Street. One only has to look at the revolving door between the Fed and the big banks to know that. Disclosures on TARP funds confirm this.
It is nothing short of cruel and criminal for Congress to stand idly by while the life savings of Americans are inflated away to nothing. It is high time Congress insist on getting complete information on what the Fed has been doing, and for whom. My hope is that exposing the truth will demonstrate the insanity of the status quo and more people will call for sensible changes, such as legalizing competing currencies.
GATA today brought suit against the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, seeking a court order for disclosure of the central bank’s records of its surreptitious market intervention to suppress the monetary metal’s price.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and targets Fed records involving gold swaps, exchanges of gold with foreign financial institutions. In a letter dated September 17 this year to GATA’s law firm, William J. Olson P.C. of Vienna, Virginia, (http://www.lawandfreedom.com) Fed Board of Governors member Kevin M. Warsh acknowledged that the Fed has gold swap agreements with foreign banks but insisted that such documents remain secret:
The lawsuit follows two years of GATA’s efforts to obtain from the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department a candid accounting of the U.S. government’s involvement in the gold market. These efforts parallel those of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who long has been proposing legislation to audit the Fed. The Fed has wrapped in secrecy much of its massive intervention in the markets over the last year, and Paul’s legislation recently was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Fed claims that its gold swap records involve “trade secrets” exempt from disclosure under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
While GATA has produced many U.S. government records showing both open and surreptitious intervention in the gold market in recent decades (see http://www.gata.org/node/8052), Fed Governor Warsh’s letter is confirmation that the government is surreptitiously operating in the gold market in the present as well. That intervention constitutes a huge deception of financial markets as well as expropriation of precious metals miners and investors particularly. This deception and expropriation are what GATA was established in 1999 to expose and oppose.
Of course GATA’s lawsuit against the Fed will take months if not years to resolve. We think we have a good chance of winning it in court. But we can win it outside court, and much sooner, if the suit can gain enough publicity from the financial news media and market analysts and prompt enough inquiry from them and from the public, the mining industry, and members of Congress.
So GATA urges its friends to publicize the suit and to urge journalists, market analysts, mining companies, and members of Congress to join us in seeking disclosure of the Fed’s gold market intervention records. If enough clamor is directed at the Fed about these records, the gold price suppression scheme will lose its surreptitiousness and fail.
Unfortunately the World Gold Council, which each year collects tens of millions of dollars in membership fees from mining companies in the name of representing them and gold investors, refuses to question governments about their surreptitious interventions in the gold market. These interventions powerfully influence not only gold’s price but the prices of government bonds and currencies, as well as interest rates generally and the value of all capital and labor in the world. There is no more important issue in the world economy than gold price suppression.
So what should have been the World Gold Council’s work has fallen to GATA, a non-profit educational and civil rights organization that operates from month to month on donations from people who share its objective — free and transparent markets in the precious metals and fair dealing among nations generally. As we prosecute our lawsuit against the Fed, we’ll be grateful for your support. We promise to do something with it.
For information about supporting GATA, please visit:http://www.gata.org/node/16
GATA’s lawsuit against the Fed is listed in federal court records as civil case No. 09-2436 ESH, the letters being the initials of the district court judge assigned to it, Ellen S. Huvelle.
You can find the lawsuit here:http://www.gata.org/files/GATALawsuitVs.Fed-12-30-2009.pdf
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
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