Putin Turns Black Gold Into Bullion as Russia Out-Buys World
By Scott Rose & Olga Tanas - Feb 10, 2013 3:00 PM ET
Not only has Putin made Russia the world’s largest oil producer, he’s also made it the biggest gold buyer. His central bank has added 570 metric tons of the metal in the past decade, a quarter more than runner-up China, according to IMF data compiled by Bloomberg.
Gold, coveted by Russian rulers including Tsar Nicholas II and the Bolshevik leader whose forces assassinated him, Vladimir Lenin, has soared almost 400 percent in the period of Putin’s purchases. Central banks around the world have printed money to escape the global financial crisis, sapping investor appetite for dollars and euros and setting off a scramble for safety.
In 1998, the year Russia defaulted on $40 billion of domestic debt, it took as many as 28 barrels of crude to buy an ounce of gold, Bloomberg data show. That ratio tumbled to 11.5 by the time Putin first came to power a year later and in 2005, after it touched 6.5 -- less than half what it is now -- the president told the central bank to buy.