I read an article about the president’s proposed changes to Social Security that got me thinking about the great debate over whether investing in the stock market is or isn’t gambling.
Within the past week, I’ve written a draft of the section of Roll the Bones covering several stock bubbles of the 18th and 19th century. I’m going to give you a sneak preview sample, as that’s the best way to put the article into historical context:
[Even after several bubbles crashed] investors still sought the next “sure thing,” showing that the English gambling spirit was irrepressible. One writer described Jonathan’s, a coffeehouse near the royal [stock] exchange, as “being full of gamesters, with the same sharp, intent looks,” although these gamesters had turned in their cards and dice for stock in the Bank, East India, South Sea, and lottery tickets.
So is investing Social Security money in the stock exchange tantamount to gambling? Read on to see if the AARP and Christian Coalition have any more clue than 19th century English stockjobbers.