key gold statistics

I’ve been doing some reading about gold this evening, and I thought I’d put my notes up here in case anyone else was interested.

  • There’s about 150000 tonnes of gold above-ground in the world. At current dollar market prices (about $28.5 million), that’s about $4.3 trillion worth of gold. That’s a number that’s kind of interesting to compare to things like bailouts and stimulus packages.
  • Most of the world’s gold is in the form of jewelry. 60%-ish. The rest is divided pretty evenly between central banks, companies that use it to do stuff (electronics, dental), and private investors hanging on for a rainy day.
  • In terms of central bank holdings, the US has way more gold than everyone else. (Well, it’s not as extreme an imbalance as our defense spending.) At about 8000 tonnes, that’s $228 billion worth of gold — more value than Wal-Mart ($198 billion), but less than Exxon Mobil ($345 billion). Also, note that the 8000 tonnes represents more than 3 quarters of the Fed’s foreign currency reserves. These numbers are also interesting to compare to things like bailouts and stimulus packages (oh, and note the annual defense budget is more than twice our gold reserves).
  • About 2500 tonnes of gold (~$70 billion) are mined every year. This represents about a 1.7% annual increase in the total quantity of above-ground gold. 66% of the world’s gold has been mined since 1950, and production has been flat to declining over the past 10 years.

Most of this information comes from the World Gold Council (made up of a bunch of mining companies).