Ecuador Gold Reserves Datapoint of the Day

By Felix Salmon
March 31, 2009

ecuadorgold

Matthew Turner points me to this rather interesting datapoint from the IMF’s International Financial Statistics for Ecuador. The country’s has had 845,000 ounces of gold for as far back as the statistics go — until January 2009, when they jumped to 1.76 million ounces, and then February 2009, when they rose further to 1.93 million ounces. That’s an increase of 1.085 million ounces (or about 37 tons of gold) in the space of two months — which at present prices is worth almost exactly $1 billion.

Curiously, the national valuation of the gold reserves hasn’t risen much — from $734.7 million in December to just $804.2 million in February. Which implies that the huge jump in gold reserves might just be some kind of data-input error. But on the other hand, it coincides exactly with Ecuador’s decision to default on its foreign debt. Might the Ecuadorean central bank be trying to convert attachable assets into something it can safely store at home? And if the country’s gold reserves have soared this year, why hasn’t Ecuador’s valuation of those reserves increased proportionally? It’s all most peculiar.

Update: The IMF says that indeed this is “a simple data mistake that is being corrected”.

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