Germany May Want PIIGS Gold as Security for ‘Bailouts’ – Merkel’s Officials in Damage Limitation Mode
All major currencies are lower against gold today with the Japanese downgrade and concerns about global growth taking their toll on Asian stock markets. While European indices have eked out gains, some selling of peripheral European debt has been seen again and yields on German bunds have risen.
The long expected correction in gold began yesterday and gold fell 1.6% in dollar terms. Traders taking profits after the recent price surge led to the falls yesterday.
In trading terms, gold’s recent price appreciation of nearly 17% in one month had been excessive – although completely understandable given the scale of the crisis facing the global financial and economic system.
Another very significant development for the gold market took place yesterday when an influential member of Germany’s ruling coalition, Ursula von der Leyen, said that Germany should follow Finland’s lead on Greece and seek collateral for loans from bailout countries and the collateral should preferably be gold.
Ursula von der Leyen is a senior German minister; deputy chairwoman of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and is a potential rival to Angela Merkel. It is unlikely that she would have made a solo run on this if she had not had a prior discussion with Merkel or at the very least with her government colleagues and lawmakers.
Government officials and anonymous government sources were quick to distance the chancellor and her government from Ms von der Leyen’s demands but Merkel herself did not comment and did not reject the call.
CDU finance spokesman Michael Meister said the call for periphery nations to give their gold reserves as loan collateral was a distraction. “The most important thing is that central banks retain independent control of their own gold reserves,” he said.
However, German officials were in full damage limitation mode. The maxim ‘never believe anything until it is officially denied’ may be appropriate.
Germany is likely to push for European gold reserves to be used as collateral. The Deputy Chairwoman of the Christian Democrats is an astute woman and politician and knew exactly what she was saying.
Indeed, she echoed other senior lawmakers who in May called for Portugal to consider selling their gold.
Two leading governing party members – Norbert Barthle, Germany’s governing coalition budget speaker and his counterpart Carsten Schneider from the Social Democrats, the biggest opposition party, urged Portugal to consider selling some of its gold reserves to ease its debt problems. They called for a review of Portugal’s request for financial aid to include gold and other potential asset sales.
The German people and lawmakers realize that the euro is being debased and lawmakers realize that gold may offer protection from the debasement of the euro but also from sovereign default and systemic contagion.