Biggest losers of 2013: Countries that lost the most on gold

American economist Paul Krugman recently noted that in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, "hundreds of thousands of gold bars sit, doing nothing in particular."

That's also true in pretty much every country in the world. Central banks hold foreign reserves and in most cases gold represents a big chunk of the value. The US for example has more than 8,000 tonnes of gold.

But this year was different than other years because while previously the gold became more valuable while doing nothing, this year gold actually lost value – about 28%. As a result, the value of foreign reserves also fell.

At we've compiled a list of the biggest losers of 2013.

About the calculations

The numbers are based on the World Gold Council's January 2013 data, which uses the end of month London PM fix gold price from November 2012 ($1,726) and countries' foreign reserve gold holdings reported in that month. Dollar amount losses are calculated using the London PM fix gold price of December 30, 2013.

In the interest of providing a general summary, the calculations are based on the assumption that there were no changes in holdings. Germany was the only country on the list that decreased its gold holdings during the year, though by less than one tonne.


 Queluz National Palace, Portugal

Queluz National Palace, Portugal | Photo by Jose Ignacio Soto

Portugal likes gold. In fact, in 2012, 90% of its foreign reserves were in gold. As a result, the country lost about 25% of the value of its foreign reserves as the gold price tumbled – an $8 billion loss.


Hosios Loukas monastery, Greece

Hosios Loukas monastery, Greece |  Photo by Anastasios71

Greece also had a hefty amount of its foreign reserves in gold – just about 83%. The debt-ridden country's account lost 23% of its value this year.


Prometheus statue, NYC

Prometheus statue, NYC | Photo by fototehnik

In terms of total dollar loss, the US was the biggest loser this year. The country's foreign reserve shed $150 billion of its value as a result of the gold price drop. The yellow metal made up 76% of the account.


Hugo Chavez

Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who repatriated much of Venezuela's gold | Photo by Northfoto

In Venezuela, the precious metal represented about 75% of the foreign reserve – a value of about $22 billion in late 2012. Today, this gold is worth $15 billion.


Golden Rider statue, Dresden

Golden Rider statue, Dresden | Photo by np

Germany has nearly 3,400 tonnes of gold in its foreign reserve account. In 2012, this represented 73.5% of its value. As a result of the precious metal price drop, this gold is now worth $144 billion – a $62 billion loss.