The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has increased the quantity of its gold holdings. With a recent purchase of 200 tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund, the Indian Central Bank is now the ninth or tenth largest holder of gold globally.
Executed as a part of its foreign exchange reserves management, the RBI recently purchased $6.7 billion USD worth of the IMF's gold, from Oct. 19 to Oct. 30th 2009. Although the RBI does not officially discuss its diversification strategy, speculation is rampant that the purchase may be part of India's push for greater influence within the IMF itself.
India, along with other emerging BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) is jockeying for greater bearing on the global economic stage, and this recent move may be a tactic of this strategy. The Indian economy has grown rapidly in recent years, and is now in aggregate, a $1.2 trillion USD economy.
According to the latest data, of India’s total foreign reserves of $285.5 billion on Oct. 23, 2009, slightly more than $10 billion worth was in gold. The recent purchase has increased India’s percentage of gold holdings in its portfolio, from approximately 4 percent to approximately 6 percent. The purchase was one of the largest single purchases of gold by a Central Bank, in memory.
Portfolio-wise, Indian gold holdings are on average much less than most Central Banks of the developed world, but interestingly, Indian gold holdings are approximately four times the size of China's share. With this recent move, perhaps New Delhi may be trying to assert its strength in world economic affairs, relative to the other BRIC nations.
For gold markets in general, the picture is less clear. What does the RBI’s decision signal for the global gold market? Does India’s recent move potentially signify the beginning of a new bull market for bullion? Only time will tell.