By Doug Young – 25 November 2023

emerging markets


In a remarkable turn of events, emerging markets are witnessing a rapid surge in their gold reserves, challenging the longstanding dominance of the Western world.

The cultural significance of gold in countries like China, India, Vietnam, and Turkey goes beyond its investment potential, as it serves as the cornerstone of their wealth.

This shift in the perception and acquisition of gold has profound implications for the global financial landscape.

East vs. West: Cultural Affinity for Gold

While the Western world often views gold as an alternative investment or a satellite asset within portfolios, emerging markets have a fundamentally different perspective.

In countries like China, India, Vietnam, and Turkey, gold is deeply ingrained in the culture and serves as a means of preserving wealth. These nations have experienced high inflation and have dealt with weaker currencies, making gold the foundation of their portfolios.

Shift in Gold Market Power

The balance of power in the gold market is shifting from the West to the East.

Emerging market countries, including China, Russia, and others, are steadily building their gold reserves.

Organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation and the Shanghai Gold Exchange have played a crucial role in driving this trend. The rise of gold prices in Shanghai and the increasing gold reserves of emerging market countries highlight their growing influence in the global gold market.

Western Financial Investors’ Role

Western financial investors have shown less participation in the recent surge of the gold market.

Massive outflows from gold exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have been observed, while central bank purchases have compensated for this decline.

Central banks in emerging markets, such as China and Russia, have been actively buying gold, signaling a shift in the gold market’s dynamics.

Long-term buying programs established by central banks further support this trend.

Reasons Behind Central Bank Purchases

The significant increase in central bank gold purchases stems from various reasons.

One key factor is the impact of sanctions against Russia, which prompted other countries to reconsider their heavy investment in US dollar assets. Diversification strategies have led these countries to view gold as an attractive asset due to its neutrality, liquidity, and low counterparty risk.

Central banks have recognized the long-term value of gold and have included it as a crucial component of their reserves.

Record Central Bank Buying and Future Projections

Central bank gold purchases reached record-breaking levels in recent years, with emerging markets taking the lead.

Projections suggest that by 2050, emerging markets will surpass developed markets in terms of gold reserves. This shift indicates a changing balance of power in the global financial landscape.

The rise of emerging markets as significant gold holders warrants close attention and strategic planning for investors and financial institutions.

Implications and Financial Crisis Concerns

The surge in emerging markets’ gold reserves raises concerns about potential financial crises.

The combination of inflation problems, geopolitical tensions, and issues in the bond market creates a potentially explosive situation. Additionally, the hawkish stance of the Federal Reserve, amidst calls for rate cuts, adds to the risks.

Stakeholders should closely monitor these developments and adapt their strategies to mitigate potential risks and capitalize on emerging opportunities.


The surge in emerging markets’ gold reserves challenges the dominance of the Western world in the global gold market.

Cultural, economic, and geopolitical factors have propelled the rise in gold buying by central banks and private individuals in these countries.

As the balance of power shifts, stakeholders need to stay informed and consider adapting to the changing dynamics of the gold market. Understanding these developments is vital for navigating potential financial crises and capitalizing on emerging opportunities.

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