(Kitco News) - A referendum on Switzerland’s gold reserves is starting to attract some attention outside of the country as a yes vote would have significant implications for the gold market, said one market analyst.
On November 30, Swiss citizens will go to the polls to vote on three areas; whether or not the Swiss National Bank should increase its gold reserves to 20%, that the central bank should stop selling its precious metals and that all its gold should be held within the country.
Ole Hansen, head commodity strategist at Saxo Bank in Denmark, said it is still early in the campaign, but he has started monitoring the public sentiment in Switzerland as the next two months will be a critical time.
He added that the Scottish referendum, held on September 18, is a strong reminder that sentiment can shift dramatically in a very short period. With all the geopolitical instability throughout the globe and concerns about European growth, it might not take much to convince people that the central bank needs to hold more gold in its reserve, he said.
Hansen explained the fact the referendum is being held demonstrates that there is already support for this idea. At first the government and central bank rejected the idea of increasing the nation’s gold reserves; however, in April of 2013, the ultra-conservative Swiss People’s party, managed to collect more than 100,000 to force the government to hold a referendum.
“There is already support for this referendum and I am expecting the gold market to start paying more attention, especially if the polls show the vote will be close,” said Hansen.
Currently, according to data compiled by the World Gold Council, Switzerland holds 1,040 metric tons of gold making up 7.7% of its reserves.
In a research note published Sept. 24, Analysts at UBS said that if the referendum passes the Swiss National Bank would have to buy about 1,500 tons of gold over the next three years. “1500 tonnes equates to half of the world's annual production,” they said in the report.
“That kind of gold buying would put what we’ve recently seen in China to shame,” said Hansen.
The UBS analysts also noted that so far the referendum has not attracted a lot of attention outside of the country.
By Neils Christensen of Kitco News; email@example.com