Francisco Rodriguez, an economist with Bank of America Corp., was at a routine meeting with Venezuelan central bank officials last week when he sprung an unusual question on them: Can you show me your gold?
He’d been itching to take a peek for years and now was the time to ask. With the government’s bonds sinking toward prices that indicate investors are bracing for the possibility of default, the country’s $15 billion of gold bars are crucial to ensuring debt payments are met. His first impression once inside the vaults? Those bars don’t take up a lot of room.