Who has been taking all that gold out of London, and why?

Every so often you encounter a chart that takes your breath away. This week I saw just such a graph…

by Chris Powell of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA)

By Ed Conway
The Times, London
Friday, February 14, 2020


Every so often you encounter a chart that takes your breath away. This week I saw just such a graph and I’m still struggling to get my head round it.

It depicts something which on the face of it sounds mundane — exports of gold from the UK — and it looks like a hockey stick.

You’ve probably seen a hockey-stick chart before. There’s the one Al Gore put up on the big screen in “An Inconvenient Truth” showing temperatures hovering at about the same level for century after century before shooting up in recent decades. Or the one of GDP going back to the dark ages: for most of history we subsisted on meagre earnings until the industrial revolution came along and catapulted GDP into the stratosphere.

The one this week has much the same shape. Not much of anything for month after month from 1998 when it begins until October 2019. Sure, there were occasional months when the amount of gold leaving British hands would hit a few hundred million pounds. Once or twice it ticks over a billion. But nothing like what occurs in November and December last year: in those months it skyrockets at a rate that doesn’t make any sense.

Until then, the monthly average of gold exports was L126 million. Then in November they leapt to L4 billion. In December they doubled to L8 billion.

To put it in context, that’s more, in those two months, than we typically export to any single country in the world. It is more than the annual GDP of Jamaica.

Britain does not mine any significant quantity of gold yet we are the world’s hub for the trade in physical bullion. This is something of an accident of history, in much the same way as we are also the world’s centre for the trade in fine wine, though we produce very little of the stuff ourselves. Yet gold bullion is so valuable that every time it changes hands it massively distorts the trade figures.

Consider: Britain has not achieved a goods trade surplus, which is where we export more goods than we import, in any single month since comparable records began more than two decades ago. Yet in December that astonishing leap in gold exports meant that the headline figures published this week showed Britain achieving its first goods trade surplus in modern times.



Ed Conway is economics editor of Sky News.

* * *

Toast to a free gold market
with great GATA-label wine

Wine carrying the label of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, cases of which were awarded to three lucky donors in GATA’s recent fundraising campaign, are now available for purchase by the case from Fay J Winery LLC in Texarkana, Texas. Each case has 12 bottles and the cost is $240, which includes shipping via Federal Express.

Here’s what the bottles look like:


Buyers can compose their case by choosing as many as four varietals from the list here:


GATA will receive a commission on each case of GATA-label wine sold. So if you like wine and buy it anyway, why not buy it in a way that supports our work to achieve free and transparent markets in the monetary metals?

To order a case of GATA-label wine, please e-mail Fay J Winery at [email protected].

* * *

Support GATA by purchasing
Stuart Englert’s “Rigged”

“Rigged” is a concise explanation of government’s currency market rigging policy and extensively credits GATA’s work exposing it. Ten percent of sales proceeds are contributed to GATA. Buy a copy for $14.99 through Amazon —


— or for an additional $3 and a penny buy an autographed copy from Englert himself by contacting him at [email protected].

* * *

Join GATA here:

Mining Investment Asia
InterContinental Hotel, Singapore
Tuesday-Thursday, March 17-19, 2020

* * *

Help keep GATA going:

GATA is a civil rights and educational organization based in the United States and tax-exempt under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Its e-mail dispatches are free, and you can subscribe at:


To contribute to GATA, please visit: