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cockswain's avatar

What is the purpose of the gold in Fort Knox?

Asked by cockswain (15271points) March 2nd, 2010

If the dollar is no longer backed by gold, there is just this giant facility full of gold. Does the government sell it sometimes? Is it there to back up money printed before the law was changed in the 70s? What’s the point?

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32 Answers

PacificRimjob's avatar

If it were somewhere else it might more easily be stolen.

dpworkin's avatar

It no longer has a purpose. It was the means to get us off the gold standard. The United States owns it. There are about 147 million ounces, and spot gold has been hovering around $1,000 an ounce or so lately, give or take.

grumpyfish's avatar

Of probably no consequence to anyone, the on-base Fort Knox aquatic center is quite nice. This fish is a fan.

cockswain's avatar

Is there a reason we don’t sell it to pay down the national debt?

kevbo's avatar

It is central to the plot of “Octopussy” “Goldfinger” and a bitch to move.

dpworkin's avatar

It hasn’t even been inventoried since about the 1950s or so, and there are some theorists who claim that the government doesn’t really own it. It’s really quite mysterious.

Dr_C's avatar

The government doesn’t own it. They are holding it for me.

cockswain's avatar


Hence my question. I hope the collective can shed some light.

dpworkin's avatar

More mystery: some claim that a lot of it has gone missing!

lilikoi's avatar

@dpworkin Somehow I wouldn’t be surprised! What an interesting thread!

dpworkin's avatar

Oh, I hope someone more knowledgeable than I am jumps in. I’d love to know the real skinny on this. It’s such a cool question. I hope all y’all are going up and clicking on GQ. I know I did.

laureth's avatar

Fun Facts about the Mint.

The gold is held as an asset of the United States at book value of $42.22 per ounce.

Sounds like they’re keeping it for the same reason that you or I might keep some gold coins in a safe deposit vault.

janbb's avatar

So that we can still use the saying, “For all the gold in Fort Knox”?

kevbo's avatar

Yes, it has the fingerprints of the Symbionese Liberation Army all over it.

cockswain's avatar

@laureth Thanks for the link. Also interesting is the fact that the reserves were at their highest shortly before we entered (I guess when I say we I’m assuming you live in the US) WWII. They must have used a lot of the gold to finance it, as the current level is 147 million and it hasn’t been removed in years. It has to be more than just a simple national treasure. Well, maybe it doesn’t, but it seems like there must be more to it. To who’s detriment would it be should some of it be stolen? Who would foot the bill? Is it insured? Such a mystery.

SeventhSense's avatar

It’s the only place that’s safe from the leprechauns.
They’re still mad we tricked them.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

@cockswain the gold wasn’t used to finance WW2, rather the reserve started to drain away during the 60’s with the government deficit spending going towards the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Space Race and Great Society domestic programs combined with inflation and trade deficits. This lead to Nixon taking America off the gold standard in 1971.

cockswain's avatar

@hiphiphopflipflapflop After I posted I thought my assumption about WWII was a little rash, thanks for the clarification. Where did you find that info? Admittedly I haven’t even read the wikipedia entry on this. I started with fluther.

CMaz's avatar

It’s just nice to have.

ChaosCross's avatar

Obama’s gotta put his bling somewhere bruh.

jealoustome's avatar

@ChaosCross Seriously? I’m not a super sensitive person of color, but I don’t like when people make thinly veiled racial slurs against the president.

The_Idler's avatar

ooooh you could pay off about 4% of your national debt with that!

…but the gold is worth so much more, because it is actually a “real” thing, and paying off the national debt is impossible and pointless, as it is an essential organ (inoperable cancer?) of the current economic system; a ball on a chain attached the ankle of the working People, a tax on the wealth of the Nation, all for the benefit of very, very clever financiers.

Right, Americans?

SeventhSense's avatar

paying off the national debt is impossible and pointless, as it is an essential organ
That’s what they sold us and it’s true from one end of the globe to the other. Whether you call it a dollar, a euro, a pound or a yen. It’s all fiat currency.

cockswain's avatar

@ChaosCross Please tell me you aren’t an adult
@The_Idler Why is paying off the national debt pointless? It’s a bit off topic, and I was only musing that the gold could be used to pay down the debt, but I’m curious why you say that.

SeventhSense's avatar

More debt= more money in circulation in our Bizarro world.

davidbetterman's avatar

Is there even any gold left in Fort Knox? I think not.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

According to the U.S. Mint (the part of the Treasury Department in charge of the facility), the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox holds 147.3 million ounces of gold.

Those of you who have seen Die Hard 3 might recall this: “One hundred and forty billion dollars! Ten times what’s in Kentucky. Fort Knox? Ha! It’s for tourists.” That was said in regards to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. According to the PDF you can download here, only a small amount of what is held there is owned by the Feds. Since Swiss banks are not required to disclose their holdings, the total amount held there is not publicly known.

The_Idler's avatar

Yo @SeventhSense. I know the same is true for any private central bank based economy, but you see that everywhere else they were ‘sold’ to stupid/greedy kings, you have no excuse, you were and are a democracy!

kevbo's avatar

Here’s an interesting story with plenty of trade sources.

Cash4Gold anyone?

SeventhSense's avatar

Doesn’t surprise me in the least. I have no doubt with the influence and collusion of the international banking community our government could put us on the “tin standard” with a perfect poker face.

cockswain's avatar

@kevbo Great article, thanks.

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