by Ted Bauman
The Sovereign Investor
What does it mean to “own” something? It’s a question you should be asking … especially if that something is gold.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines ownership as “the act, state, or right of possessing something.” That sounds about right. But what does it mean to “possess” something?
After all, you can own something that’s in someone else’s legal possession. For example, I own a house in Cape Town. My tenants have formal right of possession under a lease. I sleep at night because the sheriff of the Simon’s Town Magistrates’ Court will enforce my superior right of possession under South African law if needed — say, if they stop paying rent.
In other words, the “state or right of possessing something” that isn’t under your physical control depends on contracts and on law. That in turn depends on the ability and willingness of those who honor contracts — and enforce laws — to do so.