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MAO Yushi: The Market and Casinos
Time:2018-04-24 22:38:06   Clicks:

Win-win is the principle of the market where both parties find the exchanges beneficial. Hence, a win-win scenario, instead of a zero-sum game. As a result, wealth is created. I have explained this in multiple occasions. However, gambling is quite another case, a zero-sum game in essence. In gambling, one wins and the other loses. The sum of the wins and loss is zero. Wealth cannot be created in this game. 

Assume two people enters a gamble with some money. As they keep going, ultimately, one will lose all his money, and the other wins everything. The outcome stands even when multiple players are in the gamble. With the same fair gamble rules, the odds for winning and losing for everyone remains the same. However, the gamble money cannot be equally distributed among the gamblers. Quite the opposite, it concentrates in the hands of the few, leaving others penniless. 

As the logics go, in long-term gambling, one is set to lose all his money. Once there’s no money left, one has to leave the casino. What he once owned is now someone else’s money. The rule of gambling is to win big sum of money with a little money. However, in many people’s cases, gambling leaves them without the little money they have, while the winners take it all. Therefore, the outcome of casinos’s wealth distribution is enlarged gap between the rich and the poor. No matter how much money you originally have, the outcome of gambling always leaves some richer, and some poorer. 

Many people are quite concerned about the income inequality, trying to find out what leads to the enlarging gap. Compared to “eating from the same pot” in the planned economy, marketisation is a mean reason, it seems. However, people have yet to discover that the enlarging gap is mostly due to the “gambling” we fail to recognise in plain sight. Even though those who gamble are the few, and the market itself is not really gambling, excessive speculation in the market resembles gambling. Gambling does not generate wealth, but it is a transfer of wealth. Excessive speculation is similar to gambling in this sense. It does not generate wealth, but it moves money around. If speculators have to leave the game when they lose their last penny, then, we’ll see the concentration of wealth as a result. 

China has developed a mature speculative market. As I see it, excessive speculation is commonly seen in the stock and securities market, real estate, and futures. In these markets, prices are not determined by normal supply and demand relations, but by the behaviours of speculators, which makes a speculative market a gamble. 

It is very difficult to correct the wealth concentration resulting from excessive speculation, because it is led by the mass participation of the common people. This process of gamble will not end unless people change their behaviours. From the perspective of values, getting rich through diligence should be encouraged, and opportunism should be discouraged. The excessive speculation has made the market a casino, in the sense of wealth distribution. It does not create wealth, and it leads to concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, which does little good to the society. Of course, the excessive speculative market is far from a casino. A common commercial of a casino(including various lotteries) normally features someone who, all of a sudden, makes millions, in the expense of millions of people taking back nothing in the game. Whereas in the speculative gamble, wealth does not concentrate so much to be obvious, but it does concentrate in a the hands of a few prominent players. That’s because these big speculators have the capacity to control prices, while small investors do not. 

However, we should also avoid going to the other extreme and cancel the speculative market. Besides the normal supply and demand, a speculative market is able to balance the supply and demand and adjust surplus and deficit in time, which is also good for the economy as it create wealth. 

But we have to be clear that such a speculative market, compared to the normal market of supply and demand, should remain small, and it should not be able to determine the market price that is supposed to be determined only by the normal supply and demand. In this case, making a fortune in the speculative market is good for the overall economy. Otherwise, without the prices determined by supply and demand, but by speculators, prices will go abnormal, and the market will become a casino. 

Making money through speculation is merely a transfer of wealth, instead of creating wealth. In addition, it adds to the concentration of wealth, enlarging the gap between the rich and the poor. Therefore, constraining excessive speculation with policies is good for mitigating the division of the rich and the poor. 

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