In circulation? Not much, because gold is not used very often anymore in coins that are legal tender, meaning, real money. However, many countries and banks have gold reserves, meaning bullion that is kept as an investment; the gold you see “traded” on commodities exchanges is theoretically part of these reserves but rarely changes hands physically. There are approximately 120,000 to 140,000 tons of gold in the world “above-ground,” most of it in the physical form of bullion (bullion coins, as opposed to gold bars, are also sometimes made), worth about $1.8 trillion dollars. Since first world economies began to decouple their currency supplies from the amount of gold kept in reserve–the United States did so in 1971–gold has ceased to be a major repository of the world’s wealth, at least compared to paper investments which have exploded since that time. Nevertheless, gold as a commodity is becoming popular as an investment, usually advertised as more “recession-proof” than securities or paper investments, though whether this is actually true in practice is somewhat difficult to quantify.
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