14 February 2012

Italian banks pawning $976m of gold with Scotiabank?

In January FT Alphaville's Izabella noted that "Negative rates imply that banks are pawning gold in exchange for dollars. A move which happens to depress gold prices. But it’s always been difficult to establish who was pawning what and when, and how prevalent the practice really was."

She quoted Goldman Sachs who thought "this new demand for dollars was mostly from European banks using the gold market to source US dollar liquidity when their funding from the US money markets dried up, which created a significant amount of gold selling."

It is with interest then that in updating this post I noticed Scotiabank disclosed the following on page 37 of their 2011 Annual Report: "The Bank had exposures to Italian banks of $976 million, primarily related to short-term precious metals trading and lending activities."


  1. Very nice observation.

  2. Narrow-minded, restrictive and reductionist thinking... admittedly, precisely what we've come to expect from the excuse for the Perth Mint, MR BS (surely no co-incidence these are yr initials)

  3. Care to expand on your comment, what exactly is your issue?

  4. One take on this... my understanding is that there is a large jewelery industry in Italy, and Scotia is probably active as a lender in that market.

  5. That is a pretty reasonable explanation JP, Italian banks would be providing hedging for local jewellers, but I much prefer the more dramatic Italian banks are desperate for USD angle :)