A SURVEY of Italian households and businesses had found that the vast majority want the beleagured Eurozone nation to avoid selling its gold bullion to raise money.
More than half, however, back a proposal to use Italy's national gold reserves – the third largest behind the United States and Germany – as collateral for raising cheaper finance on the bond markets.
"Italy holds more than 2,000 tonnes of gold in its national reserves," says Natalie Dempster, head of government affairs at the World Gold Council, which commissioned the poll by Ipsos-Mori.
"But selling it is not the answer and the Italian people recognise that. A higher value option is to use gold as collateral and effectively produce five times its value, without selling it."
Market-development organisation the World Gold Council first proposed "gold-backed bonds" to ease Italy and Portugal's public debt problems in late 2011. Gold bullion has been used as national-debt collateral in the past, and academic studies have since confirmed the potential reduction in interest rates which Italy could enjoy by backing some debt with gold, offering bullion as part-payment should it then default on these new bonds.
Conducted over the last month – which includes the period of Italy's fraught and as-yet indecisive general election – the survey queried what the World Gold Council calls "a representative sample of 1,009 Italian citizens aged 16-70." Some 300 business leaders were also polled.
Asked whether they would support "using, not selling" Italy's gold bullion reserves to could reduce its cost of borrowing, 52% of the general public said yes, and only 13% no. The remaining third replied "Don't know".
Some 91% of business leaders and 85% of the general public agreed that Italy's gold reserves "have an important and positive role to play in the country's economic recovery."