A Polish group is campaigning for the return of the country's gold from the vaults of the bank of England. The bullion has been held by the Bank of England since the outbreak of the second world war, when it was smuggled through Eastern Europe and back to Britain in order to keep it safe from Nazi invaders.
Poland is not the only country in recent years to request the return of its gold from foreign banks. As countries gain in economic power and see their faith in an international monetary system shaking, they are looking for more control over their assets. The news of the Polish group initially came from WealthCycles.com.
According to Wealth Cycles, gold is being repatriated by Romania, Germany, Ecuador, and Azerbaijan. Poland adds a growing list of countries that are talking about repatriating their gold. That list also includes Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The reasons for the repatriation of gold are many. Some countries are looking to have greater symbolic control over their own economies, while some are, like many investors, thinking of gold as a hedge on exchange rates if the world economy takes an unusual turn.
The Polish group seeking to repatriate the gold is looking to ensure the safety of the metal and the economic security of Poland. For the Eastern European powerhouse, the return of the country's gold could be a symbolic catharsis. The country had to give up the gold when it fell in 1939, and could not hold it through the 20th century because of its communist government.
One of the most consistent, albeit usually unofficial, reasons for repatriation is the belief that the Bank of England and other big banks do not have the gold in their vaults that they say they have on paper. If that conjecture was proven, it could lead to even more problems for monetary security in Europe.
Gold was used as currency—or as a base for currency—across the Western world until the 1930s. Several European countries moved off of the system in the wake of the Great Depression, but the idea of gold as the base of currency has not disappeared just yet. People all over the world assume that gold represents a back-up to the currency of their country.