Editor’s Note: This story was updated from the original posted on April 20, 2018 at 13:13 EST.
(Kitco News) – Turkey joined the ranks of Germany and Hungary as the latest country which brought back its gold to home base, this according to reports from the country’s media.
Reports from Turkish media outlet Yeni Safak suggest that the country brought back all of its gold stored in the U.S. Federal Reserve. The reports published Thursday indicate that the country repatriated 220 tons of from the U.S. sometime last year. At the time of publication, Kitco News was unable to confirm the news.
The country’s gold reserves currently rank eleventh in the world, behind India, with about 526 metric tons, according to the data compiled by the The Statistics Portal. As of March 2018, the Turkish central bank said its gold reserves amounted to $25.3 billion.
Analysts told Kitco News that the move is likely politically motivated rather than economic. The consensus being that Turkey is sending a message to the U.S., with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making currency his priority.
“[Turkey’s decision] has more political intonation than economic,” managing director at RBC Wealth Management George Gero said on Friday. “Turkey is trying to shore up their currency. And I think repatriation has a lot to do with currency pairs trading.”
Earlier this week, Erdogan called for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans to be paid in gold and not U.S. dollars.
Turkish media reported Erdogan as saying, “These debts should be in gold. Because at this point the karat of gold is unlike anything else. The world is continually putting us under currency pressure with the dollar. We need to save states and nations from this currency pressure.”
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The benefits of holding gold are unique, as the yellow metal market is becoming more international, Gero explained.
“With gold, there is no political allegiance. Gold makes a lot of countries comfortable as a holding, especially if they fear inflation,” he said. “Many countries prefer to hold their own gold.”
And the message Turkey might be sending is — “more independence,” Gero added, explaining that there could be a lot of political backchannel discussions happening between Turkey and the U.S.
Also driving Turkey’s intentions is fear that all gold ETFs are “oversubscribed,” said Todd ‘Bubba’ Horwitz, chief market strategist at BubbaTrading.com.
“There is fear that you won’t have enough gold to cover the amount of all traded ETFs. Governments want to hold physical gold in their own vaults. A lot of these countries don’t really trust the entire system either,” said Horwitz. “But, funnily the price of gold is not reacting to it.”
Gold prices were trading lower on Friday, pressured down by firming U.S. dollar index and options expiration next week. June Comex gold futures were last trading at $1,339.10, down 0.72% on the day.
The gold repatriation trend was kicked off by Germany last summer when the central bank completed the move of 674 metric tons from the vaults of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Banque de France three years ahead of schedule. And prior to that, Germany had repatriated 940 tons of gold from the Bank of England.
Hungary followed in March when the country’s central bank said that it is planning to bring back 100,000 ounces of gold back from London. The reason behind the decision was to strengthen market confidence, according to local media reports.