Gold Off to a Slow Start as Central Banks Pivot Toward Digital Currencies
Some major changes could be coming soon to a central bank near you, with an estimated 90% of them at some stage of developing a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. In October 2020, the Bahamas became the first economy to introduce its own CBDC, the Sand Dollar, but many more national currencies are expected to be rolled out in the coming years.
I have much more to say on this, but first, let’s get an update on official gold purchases. Since 2010, central banks have been net buyers of the yellow metal as they seek to mitigate risk and hedge against their very own monetary decisions.
That being so, 2021 is off to a rough start in terms of official purchases. Central banks were net sellers in January and February for the first time in over a decade, unloading some 16.7 metric tons, according to the World Gold Council (WGC). This has contributed to gold’s poor performance so far this year, falling 6.5% through last Friday. Turkey was the biggest seller, dumping 11.7 tons in February alone.
Not all central banks were sellers. India bought 11.2 tons in February, Uzbekistan 7.2 tons. Serbia has been accumulating gold every month since February 2019.
The Magyar Nemzeti Bank (MNB), the central bank of Hungary, announced earlier this month that it tripled its holdings from 31.5 metric tons to 94.5 tons, putting Hungary first among Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in terms of gold reserves per capita.
“As it carries no credit or counterparty risks, gold facilitates reinforming trust in a country in all economic environments, which still renders it one of the most crucial reserve assets worldwide,” the bank wrote in a press release.