What does 5 Billion Dollars in gold look like?

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What does 5 Billion Dollars in gold look like?

What does 7 Billion Pounds in gold look like? This amazing picture gives an indication.

You are looking at the room most likely to weather the credit crunch, a vast vault filled with the final word in financial security: gold.

As stocks and shares tumble, house prices crash and previously unassailable institutions crumble into dust, the sight of several thousand 28lb bars of 24-carat gold stored in the Bank of England's massive underground vaults is hugely reassuring.

Today, an ounce of gold fetches $787.80 (£460), making each of these bars worth around £200,000, or as much as a top-of-the-range Ferrari (and, before long, more than the average London house).

In fact, there are around 15,000 bars in this picture alone - that's about 210 tonnes of pure gold, with a value of nearly £3 billion pounds. And there's plenty more out of view.

In fact, what you see here is just one-twentieth of the gold stored under the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, as the Bank of England's City of London headquarters is affectionately known.

In all, some £73billion of gold - that's 4,600 tonnes of the stuff - is stored in concrete-lined vaults beneath the busy streets of central London. It never oxidises or tarnishes (so it doesn't need to be covered), although it does need the odd dust - by a cleaner who has been carefully vetted, no doubt.

Unfortunately most of the gold stored here is held by the Bank of England on behalf of other depositors, notably the central banks of various foreign governments who might not have access to such a secure cellar. The bars themselves are not identical.

The quality of the actual metal doesn't vary, but the slightly different shapes and marks reveal that it comes from various sources. Security for the world's second-largest gold store (the largest, by a whisker, is the Federal Reserve bank vault in New York) is, predictably, rather tight.

The vaults are huge and include three disused wells. In fact, the floorspace is actually larger than that of the City's tallest building, Tower 42. Keys three-feet long are needed to open the gigantic vault doors.


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By netchicken: posted on 22-10-2008

Iím still wondering what five thousand dollars in notes look like let alone what five billion in gold looks. :(
By Shan: posted on 22-10-2008

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