Trading is perhaps a little more morally perilous than investing. It is often a zero-sum game, meaning – what you gain, someone else loses. That is the case with things like options and futures trading, in any case. International trade was practiced by saint and sinner alike. Solomon traded and became wealthy through it, but the alliances he built through foreign marriages which probably contributed to his success in trading definitely contributed to his spiritual downfall. The prince of Tyre mentioned in Ezekiel 28 also traded successfully:
“By your great wisdom in trade you have increased your riches…” (Ezekiel 28:5)
“and your heart is lifted up because of your riches” (Ezekiel 28:5).
The judgment of God came down on the prince of Tyre.
Trading is thrilling and not everyone wins at it. The smartest and best can make good money for a while, then often they lose it all when the market changes its behavior radically and their trading models no longer work. In a moment of pride much can be lost. Good trading requires patience, humility, discipline and the mastery of emotions such as greed and fear. Those who succeed at trading may be exhilirated for a while and think of themselves as such clever people – but how much has their trading been a blessing to society?
The opportunity to make money in trading exists. There is a time one must sell as well as a time to buy. Trading is not forbidden in the Bible. Even Jesus commended the servants in Matthew 25 who traded and thereby gained more talents. Matthew 25:16 says,
“Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another 5 talents”. This man was commended.
Nevertheless traders have many temptations to greed, fear, obsession with money and the like. If you can master your emotions you can be a good trader, but it is not for everyone. It requires wisdom and skill to trade well. Sometimes you have to buy when market sentiment is against the asset you are buying and often you have to sell when everyone is excited about it. Timing is everything in trading. Trading can be close to gambling in nature, so be careful with this one. You can lose years of hard earned assets in a few short months or even days with trading. Just ask the brilliant hedge fund managers at the now defunct Long Term Capital Management, or Amaranth Advisors whose hotshot trader lost billions on natural gas futures, or the former managers of Barings Bank, brought down by one rogue trader in Singapore who took a wrong bet on the Nikkei…