Note: I have edited this exchange a bit and added much more detail to the answer for the sake of completeness and coherence.
I thought it might serve a more general interest.
Sent: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 11:05 AM
Subject: comex owners per oz.
"Number Of Owners Per Ounce Of Registered Gold Goes Exponential"
Hi, can u maybe comment on the latest ratio of owners per oz, my concern is in a controlled paper price PM market does it even matter? will it only matter when the chickens come home to roost on their golden eggs only to find out they arent there.....
==========Reply to Mr. xxxxxx======
I have spoken about this quite a bit, but I am afraid some do not quite get it even yet, on both sides of the issue. Critics often willfully so, and others I am afraid for the sake of headlines.
The 'owners per ounce' is an indicator of the price relative to the strength of hands holding supply at a given price.
I do not expect this 'exponential claims per ounce' to result in anything like a default since, as others have pointed out as well as myself, the ability to convert eligible gold to delivery is very quick.
So really it comes down to a matter of price. And this is in fact what the Comex told Kyle Bass about holding gold at an exchange licensed warehouse in something other than strictly allocated form.
Now if the price and supply continue to be in imbalance globally, which I think that they seem to be, then we might very well see a market dislocation, most likely coming out of one of the physical markets like London or Asia and spreading to other markets.
And that sort of thing can be resolved in a price jump, which may be substantial, but nevertheless is doable. This is what I call a 'market dislocation. It involves that hardly unlikely market phenomenon, at least these days, of a mispricing of risks.
And it would most likely work, unless the exchange does something silly to bail out some wrong-footed insiders. That would be more similar to a de facto default, ie a pre-ordained settlement to 'maintain order in the markets' because of some cited force majeure that really does little more than expose the reckless use of leverage and overly accommodative regulating of trading activity.
This is not likely but it is certainly a possibility, and more likely now that I might have otherwise thought. I am afraid to say that my opinion on the likelihood of voluntary reform initiated by the actors and regulators is much more unlikely than one might have thought, given all that we have seen in the past fifteen years. What else would one expects when disreputable behaviour pays so well with so few serious, personal consequences?
I hope this helps to at least clarify what I am saying.