Perspective needed: Together Apple investors lost 5 times what gold traders have in 2013

According to Gold Fields Mineral Services, there are 171,300 metric tonnes, or 5.5 billion ounces of gold that exist in the world held in the  form of jewellery, gold bars and coins, central bank vault holdings and gold-backed exchange traded funds (and with and an estimated 51,000 tonnes still under ground).

In a blog post for Reuters Felix Salmon does a back of the envelope calculation and says that this means "that every time the price of gold falls by $100 an ounce, as it did on Friday and it has done again today, the value of the world’s gold falls by more than $500 billion".

Salmon then argues that while devastating to gold bugs, the carnage in the gold market over the last two days should not have quite so dramatic an influence on the broader market or sentiment in general, because broader gold holdings are not marked to market:

So what does the fall of the gold price mean for the rest of us? The first thing to worry about is the wealth effect: if people have suddenly lost a trillion dollars, does that mean they’re going to spend less, and hurt the broader economy as a result?

I doubt that, somehow. About 2,500 tonnes of gold is tied up in gold ETFs. That’s about 80 million ounces, which translates to investor losses of about $16 billion in the past couple of days. On top of that, there have probably been about $3 billion of losses in the futures market. Those numbers — a proxy for the gold positions which are marked to market regularly — are relatively modest: they’re much smaller than the $100 billion or so that has been wiped off the valuation of Apple this year alone.