President Obama is portraying this loan as an investment rather than an expenditure when he stated in the letter, "Such participation effectively represents an exchange of assets rather than a budgetary expenditure, and it will not result in budgetary outlays or any increase in the deficit. That is because when the United States transfers dollars to the IMF under the NAB, the United States receives in exchange another monetary asset in the form of a liquid, interest-bearing claim on the IMF, which is backed by the IMF's strong financial position, including its significant holdings of gold."
The supposed purpose of the increase in the NAB is to help combat worldwide financial crises. The U.S. would provide 20% of the assets for this purpose. China has already committed to lend $40 billion. There are a lot of implications to this proposed loan beyond what appears on the surface.
There is growing pressure on the IMF to actually sell some or all of its supposed gold holdings. If this pressure results in action, a number of potential problems could be exposed:
- The IMF does not physically hold the gold. It has been pledged by member nations who, in theory, have delivered the gold to one of four countries designated as depositories. The U.S. and UK are two of the designated depositories. It is entirely possible that one or more nations might, if called to turn over their gold, default on delivering
- Although the IMF tries to pretend that it audits the gold holdings, it then immediately contradicts itself by reporting that holdings in depositories are not audited by the IMF.
- There is significant suspicion that some of the gold pledged to the IMF has been leased. If the IMF were to try to sell it, that could force the recall of some gold leases.
- It is also possible that some of the gold pledged to the IMF has conflicting ownership claims.
- The IMF only theoretically has 3,217 tons of gold, which at $920 gold spot is worth only $95 billion. Where would the collateral be for the other $400 billion of planned borrowings?