How Much Gold Exists, and Where Is It?
by Paul Tustain
Editor, www.galmarley.com
March 15, 2004

A question: If all the gold ever produced in the world was formed into a single block, how long would its edge be?

In fact, at 19 metres it's quite a bit shorter than a tennis court, and that includes all the privately held coins, bars and jewelry in the world - some 75% of the total. The world's monetary gold reserve is a block of only one quarter that volume, and America's reserve is only one quarter of that. Fort Knox hides only a modest hole in the ground.

There's not much gold left elsewhere in the ground, either. Approximately 50,000 tonnes (about a third of what is already out) remains un-mined and will cost in excess of $300 an ounce to extract. Meanwhile, after steadily more detailed worldwide surveys, the mining industry consensus is that large mineral deposit discoveries are now a thing of the past.

In fact gold is - as it always has been - extremely scarce.

Here is a table of gold amounts and values. Take a deep breath before the last few lines.

Kilograms Value @ $390/Oz Litres How Much
0.008 $100 0.00041 A British sovereign coin
0.031 $390 0.00161 US Eagle / Canadian Maple coin
0.100 $1.254 0.00518
0.500 $6,269 0.02591
1 $12,539 0.0518 1 kilo - a golf ball sized sphere
2 $25,077 0.1036
3 $37,616 0.1554
4 $50,154 0.2073
5 $62,693 0.2591
6 $75,231 0.311 A can of 'Coke'
7 $87,770 0.363
8 $100,309 0.415
9 $112,847 0.466
10 $125,386 0.518
12 $156,000 0.645 A standard 400 oz bullion bar
20 $250,772 1.04 A litre bottle of water
50 $626,929 2.59
100 $1,253,858 5 A good sized deposit box
1,000 $12,538,580 52
10,000 $125,385,802 518 Half a cubic metre - fits in a corner of a small bank vault.
100,000 $1,253,858,025 5,181
1,000,000 $12,538,580,000 51,813 A small living room - and more than twice Britain's gold reserve.
8,139,000 $102,051,504,000 421,710 The US gold reserve fits into a town house.
30,000,000 $376,163,190,000 1,554,404 The world's total financial reserve of gold (central banks + significant global financial institutions like International Monetary Fund and Bank for International Settlements).
100,000,000 $1,253,858,024,000 5,181,347 The approximate total of all privately held jewelry bullion and coin.
140,000,000 $1,755,401,234,000 7,253,886 All the gold in the world - A block with edges 3 metres short of a standard sized tennis court.
$7,000,000,000,000 The approximate value of US sovereign debt (which excludes future welfare obligations, none of which have been reserved in the public accounts [see below - generational debt]).
$25,000,000,000,000 The approximate value of the world's nominal sovereign debt.
$44,000,000,000,000 The approximate value of the US generational debt - the cost of providing to the current working population what it believes itself entitled to in future welfare. i.e. the extent to which the US government has failed to reserve assets to pay for implied promises.

Of the US sovereign debt some 40% is owed to foreigners; a lot to the Japanese. They've been holding on to US Treasury bonds which they bought with the dollars they took in payment for all those Toyotas.

But now they are unhappy at losing their savings to the falling dollar. Their finance minister has just decided to convert some of their dollars to gold.

The table graphically illustrates how little he can successfully convert.

Paul Tustain - Editor - www.galmarley.com

Enjoy learning about the history of gold's role in money and international trade and make your own comparison to the world around you. Articles in the series include:

© 2004 Paul Tustain
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Paul Tustain
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