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Difficult question, at least if you'd try to argue without politicizing too much. I'd say it's a false dichotomy to equate 'making money on the stock market on your own investments' with '(negatively) extracting value'. On the whole of it I'd argue that the existence of a stock market is a public good since it makes capital more liquid, more accessible and more transparent. Going from that to argue that firms that invest purely for themselves deliver a whole lot of positive externalities would be hard for me. I'd call it Lawful-Neutral. It's wholly within the rules of society, doesn't create very clear negatives and clearly delivers positives for those involved (employees, stockholders, etc.).

If you have a 'millenial mindset' and want to work where you directly and positively impact society, I'd choose elsewhere. From a Peter Singer-like perspective, if you'd earn top dollar there and spend at least a modest amount giving to the right charities, you might still be making the world a better place, even compared to the other place.

I'd maybe agree with your points, except the last point: if these traders keep all/most smart people from the job market, then even your dollars would not make a difference. Of course this is overblown but it is similar to the concern that "all of our smart people are trying to make people click ads".

I think the way to think about it is that this "make people click on ads" problem needs to be solved. Just like this "value assets efficiently" problem needs to be solved. And if you can contribute to solving either problem more efficiently, that frees up the next smartest person to do something more directly productive.

No, because how do you solve a problem better than with one smart person? The answer is with two smart people.

And from there you get an endless race using more smart people to solve pointless problems.

Sure, but you can only solve these problems so well. They are of finite complexity.

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