With gold topping $980 an ounce, talk of the IMF selling some of its gold reserves is resurfacing again – apparently the US is in favor of "limited" sales, but might still veto any gold-sale proposal, if that makes any sense. Of course the problem is that the Fund has far too many shareholders to be able to come easily to any final decision.
In this case, of course, the Fund’s enormous inertia has proved to be extremely valuable: Britain, where the Chancellor is able to make such decisions single-handedly, sold far too early, at an average of $275.60, between July 1999 and March 2002.
I’ve never quite understood why the IMF is sitting on so much gold – it hardly seems central to any of the Fund’s objectives. Inevitably some of the reserves will get sold sooner or later. But the foot-dragging might go on so long that gold could be back down to $275 before that happens.