Many of the same people who today publicly encourage us to speculate (“Make sure your family has ample supplies of batteries!”) are among the loudest critics of speculation at other times and in other markets.But in fact the oil speculator who, say, buys oil today in anticipation of oil becoming more scarce tomorrow does just what a consumer does today in a supermarket in anticipation of a disruptive storm: both persons usefully transfer resources across time. They both stock up on resources that are today relatively abundant in order to preserve these resources for consumption at a time when they are relatively more scarce (and, hence, more precious). Both persons transfer resources from today – when the consumption of any one bottle of water or gallon of gasoline provides relatively less benefit – to tomorrow when the consumption of that same bottle of water or gallon of gasoline will provide relatively more benefit.Anticipating the future and taking actions to allocate goods and services from times of relative abundance to times of relatively greater scarcity is an immensely useful activity. And we all perform such speculation whether or not we are popularly identified as “speculators.”
This is from Professor Donald Boudreaux at the Café Hayek exposing the populist schizophrenic ‘moralistic’ concept of “speculation”.
Peddling “morality” through emotions has been popular even if they emanate from wrong premises and self contradictory logic. The fact is that speculation is all about acting in anticipation of the future. Different circumstances (emergency or not) under which people “speculate” hardly does justify a moral color or distinction.
This applies to the stock markets as well.
Btw, my phone line and dsl got busted since yesterday. Internet access has been on-and-off, so I might be low on posting.