Acquiring gold for a nation is a costly expense, but in times of economic trouble, countries want more gold in their reserves. Countries buy gold as a defensive measure to protect against inflation, acquire loans and prevent other economic nightmares. The top three countries holding the most gold from most to least are Italy, Germany and the United States, as of June 2016.
Holding 8,133.5 tons of gold (75.3% in foreign reserve), The U.S. holds more than twice the amount Germany has. The gold reserves have held steady at 8,133.5 tons since the first quarter of 2005. In 1952, the U.S. held the highest volume of gold ever at 20,663 tons, but that number fell fast, down to 10,000 tons in 1968.
Germany, with the strongest economy in the Eurozone, holds the highest amount of gold at 3,381 tons, with 69.3% in foreign reserves. Approximately 45% of Germany's gold sits in the Federal Reserve in New York.
Italy holds 2,814 tons of gold, with 68.6% of it in foreign reserves. Despite Italy's financial trouble and embarrassing political antics, it has one of the highest gold reserves in the world. However, Italy has not acquired any gold since the beginning of this century.
The United States' gold reserved have a book value of over $11 billion, however, placing a monetary value on gold reserves is not a common practice, as gold prices fluctuate like any other commodity. Gold effects global currencies differently. Even though the world abandoned the gold standard practice in 1971, gold no doubt will continue to influence the global market.