Does Trading Really Need to Justify It's "Societal Value"?
I go to a target where everyone and their little sister wants to go finance, and an interesting trend I've noticed is that people that I know are interested in finance frequently cite their reason to go pursue investment banking over trading because it creates "societal value", or something along those lines by helping companies access capital to grow and whatnot.
This opposed to trading, which they view as much less valuable - market making and providing liquidity isn't apparently as societally important as being one of Facebook's 100 syndicated underwriters.
Obviously, when it comes to things like high frequency trading, the criticisms are even more severe - that it "does nothing to provide societal value". I held my tongue when I wanted to respond that if they really wanted to create societal value they should go volunteer to teach in inner city schools, but whatever.
What I don't understand is why trading is always trying to justify it's "societal value", whenever this issue comes up. Especially for HFT, why does it matter if something provides societal value or not? I've read some posts by some people on WSO, and they're also critical of HFT and the like.
Yet, if you're able to capitalize on opportunities and make money without doing too much bad in the process - why must you go about launching a PR campaign to justify why what you're doing provides some sort of intangibles? I feel that having to justify trading (and it's automated cousins like HFT) is laughable when you've got industrial companies doing things like dumping their chemical waste into rivers and the like.
What are your thoughts on all of this - banking vs. trading's value to society, does trading even need to justify it's societal value, etc? Just to cite - I'm not an expert on HFT, algo trading, etc and might be misusing the terms, but run with it anyways.