Who Owns Most Gold in the World?
Gold is a popular investment because it’s valuable and can’t be hacked or crashed like the stock market. But which countries own the most gold in the world?
The United States holds the largest stash with over 8,133.5 tons of gold in its reserves. This is more than the next three countries on this list combined.
The United States holds more gold than any other country, with a total of 8,133 tons. This is more than twice as much as Germany, Italy and France combined. The United States is followed by Russia and China, who each have over 2 tons of gold.
Global central banks are net buyers of gold, with a total of 35,715 metric tons. This is roughly one-fifth of the total amount of gold ever mined.
Private investors also hold a lot of gold. They buy it for a variety of reasons. Some believe it can protect against inflation, while others think it is a good investment. Many of these investors own it via ETFs, such as SPDR Gold Trust (GLD -0.35%). Investing in an ETF is simpler than buying and storing physical gold.
Despite the United States being the largest gold owner in the world, its stash of 8,133.5 tons (260 million ounces) would only barely make a dent in the country’s $21 trillion national debt. That’s why most analysts believe the country will continue to be a net purchaser of the precious metal going forward.
This year alone, the top 10 central banks made net purchases of about 273 tons. The rankings don’t include the International Monetary Fund, which holds about 2,814 tonnes of gold in its safe. However, the list does include other entities like the Canadian billionaire Eric Sprott who holds a significant amount of the yellow metal as well as wealthy Indian families who hold gold for investment purposes and for sentimental reasons.
France is the fourth largest gold owner in the world, with 2,435 tons of the precious metal currently in its reserves. It is also one of the top gold producers, producing over 300 tons each year.
Germany, Italy, and Russia hold more gold than France. However, Italy has a reputation for being the most stubborn of all these nations when it comes to selling off its gold to plug budget holes.
Gold is a good way to diversify a country’s foreign currency reserves because it doesn’t carry the same risks as currencies or bonds. That’s probably why most of these nations have been net buyers of gold in recent years. Global central bank holdings of the yellow metal now top 35,715 metric tons, or roughly one-fifth of all the gold ever mined.
As Russia’s economy sputters and the ruble falls, its citizens are racing to exchange their crashing currency for gold bars. That could explain why Russia is one of the top three buyers in recent years.
According to the World Gold Council, Russian central bank gold reserves totaled 2,330 tons at the end of February 2023. That surpasses China’s reserves and makes Russia the fifth largest holder of gold.
The country’s leading gold mining companies like Polyus and Kinross produce a large portion of their own production in-country. That could make them less affected by any ban on exporting bullion out of Russia. And the gold price, though dropping this year, still remains above what many miners require to operate profitably. That will likely continue to motivate them to keep producing.
Although the Swiss don’t brag about their country’s gold reserves, it is widely known that they are among the world’s largest holders. It is estimated that Switzerland’s central bank holds over 8,100 tons of the precious metal. This is more than the next three countries combined.
The United States and Germany hold a large portion of the world’s total gold, but India has been on the rise in recent years. The country is the world’s second biggest consumer of gold and its festivals and wedding ceremonies drive demand. It also uses the yellow metal as a store of value. This is one of the reasons why the Indian government has been buying so much gold. The central bank has increased its reserves by over 200 tons since the financial crisis.