Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Golden Hoard

Gold no longer underpins many of the word's currencies, but it has not lost its importance in underpinning the 'national wealth'. The gold reserves of Ukraine are no small case in point.

 Current in the news is the matter of the "Scythian Hoard"  an number of gold objects taken from tombs in the Crimea and southern Russia after archaeological excavation of the sites of the 'Scythians' - a nomadic people often mentioned in Greek and Roman literature. The 'Scythian Hoard' is currently being displayed by museums in Holland.

The display originated in five formerly Soviet museums, one in Ukraine and the other four in Crimea.  The recent troubles there have turned the objects into a political football. The football has been 'inflated' by the downing of flight MH17.

When such displayed objects reach the end of their contract period they are, generally, returned to the loaning institution. The government in Kyiv is claiming the objects are belongings of the state, as opposed to the museums, four of which are now inside the Russian Federation. That there were a large number of Dutch citizens on board flight MH17 and that the Kyiv government accused Russia of responsibility for the airliner's destruction, means that there might be some ramifications for the return.

But more interesting is the matter of Ukraine's gold reserves.

The 'interim' prime Minister of Ukraine - Arseniy Yatsenuk  served as finance minister in the unseated Yanukovich government. No doubt he was concerned about the security of  36 tons of gold that Ukraine had 'inherited' - like the Crimea and some other territories, from the Soviet empire, even back then. Once of his first actions as interim Prime Minister was to pack-up the national gold reserve and have it flown to safety, somewhere else in the world. It is thought that Ukraine's gold is now, safe, where nobody can get at it, alongside the US reserve  in the vaults of US banks. There to rest, as collateral for the loans and future assistance needed to turn Ukraine into a bastion of freedom.

Maybe the Spaniards could make he case that some of the gold belongs to them. The Spanish Republican government sent the Spanish reserves to Moscow for 'safekeeping' during the Civil War. I don't know if that ever came back.

Germany's 3.5  thousand tons of gold, kept in New York, has yet to be returned. Even though the Germans have asked for it.

Giving the gold away is one thing, getting it back again might be a lot harder than retrieving the 'Scythian Hoard'.