Shares for all

On the BBC Tech pages a blog by Kate Russell recommends a site called Gnu Trade where you can gamble on the world’s stock markets.

Now everyone will have their own take on whether gambling on market movements is a good or bad thing but even if you do not want to risk a penny it is possible to make money here.

That is because the site allows people who bet with cash to back players who are playing for fun. If you attract a real money player to back you and you make a profit – then some of that real cash gets sent to your account.

If you are sh*t hot (belatedly decided to think of family-friendly filters) at online poker you could probably make a lot of money, There are plenty of maths geniuses out there. It’s got to be easier than the lottery,

I can think of a few other potential unforeseen consequences, whether “good” or “bad”.

My grasp of economics is pretty shaky (as witnessed by my lifetime failure to even try to be rich) but I thought the things traded in stock markets related to people’s livelihoods. Food? Manufactured goods? Oil?

Stocks and shares aren’t just numbers. Entire national economies and people’s lives rest on them.

Aren’t international markets supposed to be “sensitive” to the slightest event? Share prices fluctuate within moments with the impact of a mysterious set of forces – from changes of government to the wildest rumours.

Wild rumours on the Internet? Surely not. Bizarre misunderstandings across cultural and language gaps? No, they can’t happen on the Net. The Internet isn’t allowed to lie. It’s like television (It said so in the Simpsons.)

Might not the international markets become ever more volatile? Easier to manipulate? Might not the implications be ever more destabilising?

It’s been so long now that economists have been saying that “free trade” is the answer to everything. Maybe we will soon find out if this is the case. Alternatively, you could think of it as a scientific test of chaos theory.