What Do You Really Own?

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The concept known as electronic representation of property occurs when holdings such as bank accounts or investment portfolios are reduced to mere entries in a vast computer data base. This dematerialization of wealth and assets does not occur in a time warp. Yet, this theory of abstract relativity carries very serious ramifications for the investor. Take the case of the stock market. At one point in history, stocks were owned by keeping a piece of paper with your name on it. Each time the stock was sold, the names would have to be changed. Sometimes, stocks were held “in street name” or without registration. Crooks took advantage and often many stocks were stolen. Eventually, The Depository Trust Company (DTC) was created to cure these lapses in security and ideally to solve the increased volume of paper in the securities industry of the 1960’s. {quotes align=right}Sheer explosion in volume made the exchange of physical stock certificates more difficult and less efficient. The solution to this was to hold stock certificates in a centralized location and record all changes of ownership electronically.{/quotes} Today, shareholders’ stock certificates, as well as all contracts, futures and options, are held in a central registry with a number assigned to each transaction.

The force behind this trend towards a paperless system of wealth denomination was astutely guised in the Trojan horse of protection from counterfeiting and fraud. A parallel universe transcends space and time, according to Jill M. Considine, Chairperson and CEO of The Depository Trust Company. In an article she entitled, Escaping the Parallel Universe of Paper Certificates , which originally appeared in Securities Industry News, July 2004, the author states, “So we’re making progress. We’ve come light years from the paper crisis days of the late ’60s and early ’70s when the exchanges had to shut down one day a week and curtail trading hours on other days simply to keep up with the flood of paperwork. Now it’s time for more progress. Having to time travel back to a 19th century paper world is expensive.” However, it is indeed a parallel universe based on two facts. Side one, a direct registration holds all investors’ assets in digital form; assets as well as profuse financial and personal information. The amount of registrations are staggering, topping over 40 million accounts, double the amount from 2000. Bringing us to side two, conversely, the flip side of the coin: wary investors the world over, technically own nothing, except an electronic PIN. And in the name of security, since September 11, 2001, the world financial picture has indeed changed. The parallel universe is an evident truth; one is assigned an electronic PIN to access accounts that are held in trust to companies in the United States and overseas. Once again, the investor owns nothing as nothing is held in one’s actual possession.

The very notion that investments, are held in “trust” is indeed indicative of a Brave New World, a world marked by political polarity as well as manipulations by a global economy that serves the elite at the expense of the average what_do_you_really_own_EFTworking man’s investments, and are held in Trust by the very same corporations that usurp investors assets at will. A bleak financial picture evolves, the concept that ownership and possession are two different ideals. However, this ideal can be tied to offshore banking schemes that lure the investor with the concept of privacy and high rates of return, often resulting in neither. {quotes align=left}Foreign governments can seize assets at any time, and the political climate of offshore banking can shift quickly, so a bank account in a foreign country can be deemed worthless. {/quotes}Comparatively, our own government can seize assets at will without due process hearings, based on suspicion of illegal activities, which in this day and age of intrusive laws can encompass all areas of human endeavor.

Recent rulings by the Supreme Court have even stripped away the most basic American tenet, your home is your castle. Yes, so much talk about our loss of the right of privacy, has countless Americans wondering what do you really own? Perhaps we expect, and accept that the so-called bad guys can have their assets seized as a weapon in the war on drugs or terror, or tied in to money laundering, but this is an entirely different matter. Consider that the Supreme Court has ruled that land or property can be taken from a perfectly law-abiding citizen and then sold to the highest bidder, all in the name of the public good! What do you really own? Apparently nothing. The prudent investor will be aware of these variables and hold in his or her possession, real, tangible, physical assets. We have examined all areas and have found American gold and silver coins are the ideal vehicle for the private storage of wealth. While we may have all heard the adage: He who has the gold makes the rules. Perhaps we can add a maxim of our own. Having the gold isn’t enough you must be able to keep it. If you can.


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