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In one of those "let’s defy common wisdom/sense!" kind of things, Matt Levine of Dealbreaker says something badly in need of correction:

1. You were shorting a thing that you were selling to your customers! This is what drove Congress bonkers. But that’s what selling is. If you have 20 apples and sell me 15, you now have fewer apples, and I have more. If apple prices decline, I am worse off, and you are relatively protected. Banks, which are always long some risks and short some others, don’t see zero as a particularly interesting point on this continuum – if you have 20 apples and sell me 30, and apple prices decline, you make money, but that’s different only in degree, not in kind, from selling me 15 and reducing your risk to 5.

This is silly. Let’s say I’m an apple farmer. And let’s say I love apples. Like, really love apples. For breakfast I have apples. For lunch – more apples. Dinner is apples. Dessert is an apple tart. Me, my spouse, my kids – we are all fiends for apples.

But if I have a worthwhile apple farm I am a) still going to have way, way more apples then my family could eat, and b) still need other stuff I can’t grow from the ground. Ergo, I’m going to want to swap some apples for other stuff – farm equipment, energy, an iPad, etc (or for currency that can be swapped for that stuff). But this doesn’t make me an apple speculator. It’s really about diminishing marginal returns and economies of scale. The apple is worth objectively more to someone who has zero apples and wants an apple then it is to someone who has 100,000 apples and can only eat 40,000.

But let’s say I found an apple with a bomb in it. I could bury it or try to defuse. I could alert the authorities to the situation. Or I could sell you the apple, neglect to mention the strong likelihood that it will explode, then make a huge bet with someone else that by day’s end you’ll be in the ICU with third-degree burns. That’s not capitalism, that’s being a giant asshole, and that’s really what people are accusing Goldman Sachs of here.

Now I’m going to go eat an apple.

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