Hungary’s Gold Repatriation Adds To Growing Protest Against US Dollar Hegemony

– Hungarian National Bank (MNB) to repatriate 100,000 ounces gold from Bank of England

– Follows trend of Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Belgium each looking to bring gold back to home soil

– Hungary one of the smallest gold owners amongst central banks, with just 5 tonnes

– Central bank gold purchases continue to be major drivers of gold market

– Russian central bank gold reserves now exceed those of China

– Decisions to repatriate and increase gold reserves come as rifts between East and West widen

A country’s sovereignty is becoming the driving force of so many changes in the geopolitical sphere, today. Whether it is Brexit, surprise electoral victories in central Europe or a change in trade deals, sovereignty is at the forefront of so many of these decisions.

One of the first indicators that there was a change in the water when it comes to globalisation and international cooperation was through central bank gold buying and repatriation.

For some time now many central banks have been working on building up their gold reserves and ensuring they are stored on soil it believes to be safe and trustworthy.

The most recent central bank to make this change is that of Hungary. Last week it was announced that it intends to bring 100,000 ounces of its very limited 5 tonnes gold reserves, back home from the Bank of England.

This is not an unusual move. In recent years we have seen the likes of Germany, Venezuela and the Netherlands each repatriate their gold from various locations. The pace does appear to have been picking up since the late Hugo Chavez decided to bring home 180 tonnes of gold in 2011.

Furthermore, huge central banks namely Russia and China have been adding to their gold hoards, one more publicly than the other. Both have also been encouraging the use of gold as a means of payment in international trade as a means of avoiding US dollar hegemony.

The decision to place more focus on gold reserves is a statement by central banks and their governments to reduce the counterparty risk on their reserve assets. When holding another country’s currency you are vulnerable, the same applies to when a third-party holds your gold at a time when their own assets are perhaps more exposed than you’re comfortable with.

Russia, China and Turkey leading the gold rush

Hungary’s decision on gold repatriation was not something that made the mainstream news. After all, 100,000 ounces is very little when you consider than Russia increased its physical gold exposure by 20 tons in January 2018 alone.

Hungary decision is, however, a major comment on the current mindset of countries that feel they need to start working to protect their finances and borders. Hungary’s political changes are widely known and have been criticised extensively by both the EU and wider Western world.

The decision to bring gold home is a statement that says Prime Minister Viktor Orban would rather have the country’s assets close to home rather than in the hands-off a country that perhaps does not have his own best interests at heart.

This is a common theme, not just reflected in gold repatriation decisions but also in gold purchases.

Russia, China and Turkey have each materially increased their gold reserves in recent years. Since March 2015 Russia has bought gold every single month. January’s purchase took their reserves above those of China, a level which had previously been monitored as an example of the East’s great interest in moving away from US dollar dominance.

China has been famously coy about its gold reserves. apart from the period from July 2015 to October 2016, China only reported its gold reserve increases at various multi-year intervals. Most recently it has been reporting zero additions to the IMF.