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MadMarketScientist

Speculators Are Useless to Society

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A few of us here are debating whether 'speculation' is useless, as it serves no useful function to society .With most "normal jobs' you produce either a product or a service. But the act of speculation produces nothing as it does not add anything useful to society.

 

My thoughts are even though speculation seems to produce nothing, it is actually providing a means for other companies to provide products and jobs, like the brokers, software vendors, etc. And then we can add all the taxes we pay.

 

So bottom line, because we speculate non-speculators does benefit. Tell me what you think?

 

MMS

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As speculator one fulfills at least two social functions that would otherwise be shunned very strong:

 

 

Take risks that others would not take.

 

Tolerate uncertainty that others would not endure.

 

 

So in total they provide liquidity for the great process of economic (positive or negative) critic.

 

 

My two cents.

 

W.

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. some people call themselves "Liquidity Provider".

 

Very well said Tams.

 

Speculation provides the liquitidy with out which corporations would not be able to raise capital in the capital markets and withou which both suppliers and users would not be able to hedge in the commodity/interest rate/currency markets.

 

Without speculation the markets could not fulfill their function and without the markets there would not be much of an ecconomy.

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Isn't speculation a function of efficient market theory? If there is a window of opportunity for people to capitalise on something then they will. The window then disappears. The market then becomes more efficiently priced.

 

Anyway, aren't all traders effectively speculating?

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What isn't speculation? Who isn't speculating? Many people in the trades work without knowing if their going to get paid in full or at all for their work when finished. Banks give out loans based upon the probability of repayment. Corporations sign contracts with the belief that their fixed costs won't change dramatically, when in fact they could.

There is no such thing as a job or position that is secure and if you think there is just ask Richard Nixon or any professional athelete who's on the verge of being replaced by a hot rookie.

Trading is an admiral pursuit because knowingly or not you fascilitate an efficient market and if you're good than you're on the right side of that market most of the time.

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If I open a shop selling pencils I buy for 80cents to sell for $2.00 - i am not speculating, I am receiving a margin for providing ready access to a supply of pencils.

insurance companies - most of the time our house wont burn down.....,

gaming companies - they provide a venue for the entertainment dollar dont they ;),

lawyers - where do I start :)

farmers - why cant we grow our own food in pots and small plots instead of subsiding people who speculate on the weather, food is such a vital part of society it should not be allowed to be in the hands of such speculators - lets privatize it ? (ps...I am a farmers son)

 

 

nahhh....

I am in agreement with UB and Tams and figure most people here will agree.

Speculation is about providing liquidity - and feeding brokers of course!

 

(Negotiator - I think you are pushing arbitrage opps more - free money is not speculating :haha:)

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My benefit to society... I pay taxes, donate to the Salvation Army, and vote. I lend a hand to my neighbors when needed. The lawn gets mowed once a week. I don't abuse credit, and my bills get paid on time.

 

The subject of "occupation" comes up in small talk occasionally. I'm at a loss to tell folks what I do sometimes. Many times I get the... "so then, you don't really have a job"... or worse yet... "yeah, right" (these are comments not expressed so much in words, but more in attitude). The other side of it is... "what's hot right now"... or they want to talk about some investment they made money on in the past... more often though... "the one that got away"... which is fine by me.

 

When I was starting out, I gave the most socially acceptable answer that I could... "I'm between jobs right now". I still revert to that answer sometimes... depends on my mood, and whether or not I expect to see you again. It used to be so easy... "I'm a candle stick maker". Others can relate to having a job with a title, a boss, and a place to go every day... "candles are good... I like candles".

 

Bottom line... I'm a leach, but I'm OK with that.

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I ve seen a lot of incompetent people do well in life because they were either fun to be with or good looking/sexually available or charming or willing to do whatever they were told to do, even when unethical.

 

As all of that counts nothing when "speculating" it might well be that a "speculator" does a more honest job than most (does not of course apply for trading on inside information or else)

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Is a speculator's role in society to give away "ticks" for free ?

 

Maybe yes.

 

Say u urgently need 8k for something as noble as paying for ur kid's medical bill and u happen to have that sum invested in a stock.

 

If there is a speculator around u might get EUR 8010 instead of EUR 7990 for ur line of shares.

In other words u get more for what u sell.

 

 

If u are instead in a buying mood a speculator might help u pay less for what u buy.

That's not so usual. Ur friendly shopkeeper around the corner charges u more, not less, to spare u the nuisance to drive to the hypermarket.

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Without speculators there would be no capital markets and there would be no businesses.

Imagine a new business where only promoters and investors are involved. This business does not do well and investors want to sell the shares...whom do they sell to? ...Brokers? no...Its the day traders and it helps so the share value does not fall rapidly. Suppose business does well.....and some investors want to buy.....its traders who allow them to buy at lower price...if there were no traders....promoters would sell the shares at very high price. Basically traders help in narrowing the bid ask spread and provide efficient market....without them investors and promoters would be non-existent.

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Speculators do give back to society in terms of market data fees,

software/charting costs, broker fee's, indicator development costs, internet access

costs, educational/product costs, pc/hardware costs, trade room costs...

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The world 'speculator' is often used nowadays as a negative value judgement on short term investors, However, in the original meaning of the word, all 'business' activity of any kind is speculation. I don't see there's any useful moral line you can draw, unless the speculative activity is actually harmful to society.

 

The guy buying pencils to 80c and selling them for $2 is speculating that there will be enough ready buyers at that price for him to sell his stock and make a profit. The result of his speculation is that someone gets a pencil he can use, but that wasn't why the whole transaction was made possible by the vendor. He is speculating, not selling them because he feels sorry for unfortunates without pencils. The only reason he doesn't ticket them $3 is that he knows there's a good supply of pencils available at around $2 and he can't get more for them.

 

Perhaps the 'really' useful people do things like curing people of disease or nursing ill folks, for which they are paid a salary - in many cases, by a speculator who hopes health insurance companies will pay him a chargeout rate of double or whetever the doctor's salary. That speculator has provided liquidity in the form of health care to the market. In the capitalist market system, everyone who is not a 'wage slave' or 'unwaged' is a speculator of some kind.

 

But, in the end it doesn't really matter, because nobody outside this business understands what we do anyway, and most of them have a slightly negative reaction if only because most people think they're the only ones who work hard, and disapprove of most things they don't understand and can't explain away by e.g. inventing a religion. Damn, overdid it again :crap:

 

Max

Edited by maxr

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What is perceived to be bad for the world is often only about short term pain for most people anyway. I'd just point out this with a quick note on the financial crisis just gone and the reaction of the 'honest' workers and 'consumers' to the evil banks. I think what they are slightly overlooking is that all of the boom pre meltdown was also due to that. Had everything been done differently, there may never have been a boom at all.

 

Anyway, Oil. Two simple points. A higher price point means oil companies investing in drilling in previously uneconomical reserves. That means when prices stabilise, there should be at least temporarily, a better supply of oil. So prices can then fall a little and remain more stable for a time. Stable energy prices are good for economies. Secondly, if such high oil prices hadn't been explored, would we have seen such a push towards renewable energy sources?

 

So yes, in this case the 'speculator' may have hurt the economy short term, but there are potential positives to it too in a situation like this where something has gotta give.

 

Btw, I bet it was also a speculator who bought right at the top. Poor bugger.

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It's amusing to read this thread, along with a couple of PM's I've received. I thought that I was giving off some negative vibe that brought about a negative reaction in some people when I told them what I do for a living. Turns out it's typical... great... I feel better.

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I started down the road of being a speculator when I was 11 years old, buying newspapers wholesale with the HOPE of being able to sell them retail. It paid off, instead of mowing lawns for far less.

 

One of my favorite plays is to short oil when it is poised for a correction. By adding to the downward momentum, I am helping to save the world economy and lowering the price of gas for patriotic Americans! :cool:

 

In the big picture, I look at speculation as an integral part of enabling my overall lifestyle, a lifestyle which has allowed me to free up much time and energy to accomplish some of my ideals for the greater good of all life.

 

If I were commuting long hours and stuck to some rigid schedule, I would never have been able to develop other talents in the realms of healing, teaching wilderness survival skills, etc. And I would instead be burnt out and exhausted like so many of my friends. The more of us who are increasingly FREE to become everything we can become, the better!

 

In addition, by being a speculator, I have developed even more self-discipline and self-honesty, planning capacities, focus, courage, etc. And all of that bleeds into the rest of my life, and adds to what I can contribute to society.

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Btw, I bet it was also a speculator who bought right at the top. Poor bugger.

 

No, that would be an 'Investor'. An 'investment' is a trade where a speculator buys at the wrong price, holds onto the loss, then waits for it to go away. Investors are holy men who enable corporations to keep their CEOs in the style to which they're accustomed, whatever the balance sheet. Sometimes they even give their money to banks to 'invest' for them, displaying both their utter trust in even the most unpromising humanity, and their complete detachment from material things ;)

 

Max

Edited by maxr

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I am betting the guy who bought oil at the top was a speculator, and if they were following their plan either way...it was probably a good trade...... more interesting was who sold?

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That speculators are essential for the smooth functioning of any market, is fully accepted.

 

Take this quote from Milton Friedman and the comments:

People who argue that speculation is generally destabilizing seldom realize that this is largely equivalent to saying that speculators lose money,” he asserts, “since speculation can be destabilizing in general only if speculators on average sell when the [commodity] is low in price and buy when it is high.”1 Destabilizing speculators are an irrational bunch of people who sell commodities when they are cheap, driving prices down even lower, or buy commodities when they are expensive, driving prices up even higher. But they have to pay for their irrationality and will sooner or later lose their money. The Darwinian mechanism of the survival of the fittest kicks in and weeds them out of the market. The only speculators who can survive in a market are those who behave rationally, buying low and selling high. So markets are stable even in the face of speculation—indeed, speculation makes markets more stable, further strengthening the “invisible hand” mechanism of Adam Smith.

 

See the full article at:

Two Views of Financial Markets

 

For most of us in the markets, this is old hat. I guess it is being raked up now, as everybody looks on the financial markets as embodying evil - and speculation is the easy fall guy.

 

Look at it another way, any act based on information has a speculative expectation on its outcome. Speculation is that basic. The core of any financial market rests on speculation which may be long term, medium term, short term, or as is happening now -high frequency.

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I have thought about this quite some time before as I got approached by family & friends. Actually perceiving trading as "spiritual activity" I see myself as very useful to society. I do not need to build anything (Having) nor do I need to be of service to anybody (Doing).

I enjoy myself Being in a state of mind that is based on gratitude & joy - to me one of the pre-requisites of consistent profitable trading. In such states I bring consciousness into the world by transcending emotions of fear & greed. Since I learned to trade I am a much more conscious & happy person. Very similar, a monk heightens the cosnciousness of the world (without much doing) by his thoughts & deeds alone.

That makes sense to you?

Gabe

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hi Gabe,

 

it does make sense, it is also a useful belief to hold.

Most people might not understand what u mean and might laugh when u say that.

Do you care ?

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