Feds auditing N.Y. gold supply to debunk conspiracies

Hoping to debunk conspiracy theories, the Treasury Department has been examining gold bars stored in the New York Federal Reserve's vault to prove they exist and are genuine, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The audit, a first for the New York Fed, includes drilling bars to test their purity. Based on current prices, about $110,000 in samples have been removed from the $21 billion in U.S. bullion in the vault.

For decades, conspiracists have claimed the gold isn't real, is swapped with other governments or was stolen in a Hollywood-like caper. Think Goldfinger or Die Hard: With a Vengeance.

"The calls for audits are saying, 'We don't trust the government for the last 200 years,'" Ted Truman, a former assistant Treasury secretary and Fed official, told the Times. He said skepticism about the reality of the reserves was "the gold bug equivalent of the birther movement."

Results are to be announced by the end of the year.

The Times offers these factoids about the New York gold:

* Besides U.S. gold, the Fed's vault holds bullion from three dozen other countries and organizations such as the International Monetary Fund.

* In all, there are about 530,000 gold bars, of which 34,021 belong to the U.S.

* Samples were taken from 350 bars.

* The vault is 80 feet beneath the Fed's building. It is entered through a steel-and-concrete entryway and a rotating, 90-ton steel door-like cylinder.

* The gold is stored in 122 blue cages.

Previously, the Treasury audited and tested bullion at Ft. Knox, Tenn., West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Mint in Denver, which together hold 95% of the America's gold. The Fed's nationwide vaults hold 23% of the world's official reserves.

More key details about the vault here, though valuations are outdated. The spot price of gold ended the day at $1,603.30 an ounce.

Want to see it for yourself? The N.Y. Fed's guided tour includes a vault visit.


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