Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Elitist Friend of Gold to Leave World Bank

Robert Zoellick has announced that he will leave the World Bank, where he is president, on June 30.

Make no mistake, Zoellick is an elitist (He is former Goldman Sachs) . You don't get to be head of the World Bank otherwise, but he was a big fan of gold.

In November of 2010, Zoellecki called for a role for gold in a new international system.

In a commentary for FT, Zoellick wrote that a new co-operative monetary system must be built. He said the new system needs to involve the dollar, the euro, the pound and the renminbi but added that the system should also consider employing gold as "an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values." He added, "Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today."

He called gold the “elephant in the room” that was being dangerously ignored by policymakers in the debate over how to correct global trade and fiscal imbalances

He was forced to walk back his comments, the next day.

Though, in November 2011, while we talked, he seemed to still have a fondness for gold. This is what I wrote back then:
I spent some time Tuesday afternoon at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, which was being held at the Four Seasons in Washington D.C. The usual suspects were there, everyone from Rupert Murdoch to Dick Cheney to Tim Geithner.

The most fascinating conversation I had was by far with Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank. If you recall, a year ago he wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times stating that the Group of 20 leading economies should consider adopting a global reserve currency based on gold as part of structural reforms to the world’s foreign-exchange platform. He wrote that the increasing use of gold as a monetary asset was an “elephant in the room” that was being ignored by policymakers in the debate over how to correct global trade and fiscal imbalances.

No doubt under bankster pressure, he backed away from his gold stance two days later. He said that critics had misunderstood his proposal as a call for a return to the gold standard.

On the sidelines of Tuesday's WSJ event, I probed him on the topic. It's clear that Zoellick is a big fan of gold. I have asked many high profile officials and investment people about gold, they usually yawn. Zoellick seemed pleased with the topic. I asked him for his current view on gold, he smiled, stopped himself and said, "No, I better not."

But then he added, "Anybody who listened to me last year is showing a nice profit." Gold is up about $300 an ounce since he wrote the Op-Ed. I asked him if those who listened to him last year should sell?

He looked at me, thought for a minute then said, "The uncertainty is still making gold a good investment."
Rumors are circulating that Zoellick would be in line for a top Administration position, if a Republican wins the White House. Obviously, Ron Paul would have better choices, but this wouldn't be a bad Mitt Romney choice. And, I'm not so sure he can be ruled out as an Obama selection for Treasury. Remember, Geithner has said he won't return for a second Obama administration.

I repeat Zoellick is an insider, but at least with Zoellick around you are unlikely to see harassment of gold holders.