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If I were to set up a gambling market based upon predicting suicide, divorce and ill health rates in the upcoming recession, would this morally be any different to a market where we can short failing companies?

Should speculation be an entirely amoral act?

Edited by DissipatedYouthIsValuable

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If I were to set up a gambling market based upon predicting suicide, divorce and ill health rates in the upcoming recession, would this morally be any different to a market where we can short failing companies?

Should speculation be an entirely amoral act?

The spread betting firms have traditionally not run these kinds of markets and nor has Betfair and the other gambling exchanges although I suspect this is because of the fear of bad publicity rather than any moral qualms (they've certainly been asked to by customers from time to time). Many of the big investment banks are now involved in insurance derivatives (also known as death derivatives) but the general public and the press haven't really picked up on it despite it being very morally questionable. Personally, I don't see how you can make any distinction between buying shares in a company that sells cattle prods to third world dictators and betting on suicide rates, they seem equally wrong. However, I see nothing wrong in principle with shorting the stock of a company so, to answer your question - shorting ok, betting on divorce rates bad IMO.

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If I were to set up a gambling market based upon predicting suicide, divorce and ill health rates in the upcoming recession, would this morally be any different to a market where we can short failing companies?

Should speculation be an entirely amoral act?

I don't really think it's any different when the act of speculation does not affect the outcome - i.e. causing ill health by a polluting activity and then profiting by that.

My own opinion is that much of speculation is immoral. If you invest in a sub-prime loan company you may get higher returns through exploiting the lack of choice of poor-credit people. If you invest in property in a restricted-supply market you drive up prices so that others lose to your gain (yes, I know, rents may drop...).

If you invest in a company that dumps surplus crops on developing countries or buys up cash crops at the expense of local subsistence farmers thats immoral even if an unintended consequence.

Many of these activities have the 'amoral' consequence of simply raising the price of a commodity (e.g. BTL raises HP in order to get an enhanced capital return). Making badly-off people pay more for essential items could be seen as taking money from them or - from a Marxist perspective - stealing their labour (e.g. cheap sweatshop goods). Ultimately there is little moral distinction between that sort of exploitation and slavery.

So each individual should draw their personal speculative line where their purse and moral conscience tells them.

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If I were to set up a gambling market based upon predicting suicide, divorce and ill health rates in the upcoming recession, would this morally be any different...

In our upside-down society that sort of gambling is known as selling 'insurance' and is seen as a highly respectable way to make very large sums of money.

Recklessly and cluelessly gambling on the stock market using other people's money - until it runs out - then retiring on what you've skimmed off the top in the mean time is also a highly respected profession.

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