US Treasury-Owned Gold at 261.4 Million Ounces

by Darrin Lee Unser on May 1, 2015 · 4 comments

Gold owned by the United States Treasury totals over 261 million ounces and has a book value topping $11 billion, according to the most recent report issued by the department.

Gold and Silver Bullion Bars at West Point Mint

When staff from CoinNews last visited the U.S. Mint facility in West Point on July 22, 2014, it had working stock of 3,592 gold bars, each weighing about 400 troy ounces for a total value of nearly $1.9 billion.

That’s not a lot in value, when compared to a U.S. debt that tops $18.2 trillion. Nor does it reflect any significant changes over the last few years. But it’s also not a complete real-world picture as the government’s book value for gold is sharply lower than market value.

U.S. Treasury-owned gold has remained relatively constant over the years, with the majority of it held in deep storage. Formerly called “bullion reserve” or “custodial gold bullion reserve,” deep storage gold is primarily in the form of gold bars secured by the United States Mint in sealed vaults that are annually inspected by the Department of Treasury’s Office of the Inspector General.

The United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky holds about 147.3 million ounces or 60.1% of the gold in deep storage. Other U.S. Mint facilities account for the rest. The West Point Mint secures about 54 million ounces and the Denver Mint is the custodian of about 43.8 million ounces.

Adding to the overall number, albeit in much smaller amounts, are Federal Reserve Bank holdings at 13.4 million ounces and U.S. Mint working stock at 2.7 million ounces. Working stock is what the U.S. Mint uses to strike its gold coins on a day-to-day basis. It consists of bars, blanks, unsold coins, and condemned coins.

In total, Treasury owned gold comes to 261,498,926.230 ounces, according to the most recent report dated March 31, 2015. That number is then multiplied by the statutory price of gold, established by law in 1973 at $42.2222 per ounce, for a total book value of $11,041,059,957.46.

This table breaks down the status of U.S. Treasury-owned gold:

Fine Troy Ounces Book Value
Summary
Gold Bullion 258,641,878.074 $10,920,429,098.79
Gold Coins, Blanks, Miscellaneous 2,857,048.156 120,630,858.67
Total 261,498,926.230 11,041,059,957.46
 
US Mint Held Gold – Deep Storage
Denver, CO 43,853,707.279 1,851,599,995.81
Fort Knox, KY 147,341,858.382 6,221,097,412.78
West Point, NY 54,067,331.379 2,282,841,677.17
Subtotal – Deep Storage Gold 245,262,897.040 10,355,539,085.76
 
US Mint Held Treasury Gold – Working Stock
All Locations- Coins, blanks, miscellaneous 2,783,218.656 117,513,614.74
Subtotal – Working Stock Gold 2,783,218.656 117,513,614.74
     
Grand Total – Mint Held Gold 248,046,115.696 10,473,052,700.50
 
Federal Reserve Bank Held Gold
Gold Bullion:
Federal Reserve Banks – NY Vault 13,376,987.715 564,805,850.63
Federal Reserve Banks – Display 1,993.319 84,162.40
Subtotal – Gold Bullion 13,378,981.034 564,890,013.03
 
Gold Coins:
Federal Reserve Banks – NY Vault 73,452.066 3,101,307.82
Federal Reserve Banks – Display 377.434 15,936.11
Subtotal – Gold Coins 73,829.500 3,117,243.93
     
Total – Federal Reserve Bank Held Gold 13,452,810.534 568,007,256.96
     
Total – Treasury Owned Gold 261,498,926.230 $11,041,059,957.46

 

Market Value

Of course, market conditions have changed significantly over the last 40 years with gold’s value at about 28 times higher than the 1973 set $42.2222 per ounce statutory price.

To highlight some of those changes, the chart below shows total ounces of U.S. Treasury owned gold over the last few years, the recorded book value and the approximate market value of the precious metal based on the London price of gold at the time of the report.

Treasury Owned Gold Book and Market Values

Report Date Ounces of U.S. Treasury Owned Gold Book Value (based on $42.222 an ounce) Approximate Market Value
January 31, 2012 261,498,899.316 $11,041,059,487 $456,054,080,407
January 31, 2013 261,498,926.247 $11,041,059,958 $435,330,337,470
January 31, 2014 261,498,926.247 $11,041,059,958 $327,135,156,731
January 31, 2015 261,498,926.230 $11,041,059,957 $329,554,021,781
March 31, 2015 261,498,926.230 $11,041,059,957 $313,014,214,697

 

The market value of the gold today, May 1, is $307,509,662,300 at the latest London gold price of $1,175.95 an ounce.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Boz May 1, 2015 at 5:14 pm

So how much do we owe China?

chuck May 3, 2015 at 5:50 pm

about 10 times the market value of the gold.

Jeff May 4, 2015 at 2:02 am

Interesting that it is not valued at market price (~$1200/oz.) but at what may have been its acquisition cost (~$42/oz.). And that represents the late ’70s price, which still may not represent true cost since the 1933 revaluation from $20.67/oz. to $35.00/oz. certainly includes some of this gold. Unless they are LIFOing the gold and thus the current usage represents gold of much higher cost. Curious.

Vachon May 4, 2015 at 1:36 pm

If the country doesn’t use gold as money and the country does not settle accounts using gold and there are no plans to go back on a gold standard or Bretton-Woods type agreement…what’re we keeping gold in storage for (or any world government for that matter)? It seems so wasteful and stupid.

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