It could be the plot of a Hollywood movie, albeit one where apparently nothing goes wrong: On Aug. 23, Germany announced it had successfully and in secret shepherded half its gold reserves back home, per Reuters. Germany's 3,378 metric tons of gold had for decades been stored in New York, London, and Paris over fears that the Soviets could get their hands on it, CNBC notes; only 2% of the country's gold remained at home during the Cold War. A mission that began in 2013 to bring 1,710 tons back to Frankfurt wrapped up well ahead of the scheduled 2020 end date. The Bundesbank declined to explain to CNBC the methods by which the transfer of 53,780 bars—each worth $519,000, or $27.9 billion in total—out of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Paris' Banque de France took place. The undertaking cost Germany $9.1 million, per Deutsche Welle.
The Financial Times reports Germany's gold reserves are second only to the United States' 8,134 metric tons; what remains abroad is held at the Federal Reserve and Bank of England in London, where it can be converted to dollars and pounds, respectively, if an economic emergency necessitates it. Economic emergencies elsewhere—think the US subprime crisis—led some to voice concerns the gold "might have been tampered with, lent out, or sold off," as Deutsche Welle puts it, spurring the central bank to bring more gold home. "We've checked every ingot against authenticity, fineness, and weight. We have nothing to complain about," says a Bundesbank board member. The first repatriation pre-dated even the subprime crisis, notes Reuters, with 931 metric tons returned from London in 2000. (Some suspect the Federal Reserve isn't holding as much gold as it claims.)