Clifford Asness is a professional money manager, but if that ever fails he could be a writer, at least on the basis of his latest article, "Keep the Casinos Open," which argues that "side bets" of the sort that are at issue in the SEC case against Goldman Sachs actually do have a redeeming social value: "If these 'side bets' encourage more research, more time and energy, into figuring out whether the current price is too high or too low, they themselves can make prices more accurate."
More: "By the way, and for the record, government loves betting, it just doesn't love free people betting amongst themselves without government wetting its beak. Government loves Powerball. Government loves OTB. Government loves legalized casinos that pay big taxes. So please, don't tell me it's a moral thing about gambling, or about government protecting us from ourselves. It's a power and revenue thing where the government wants it all....For fun, let's talk about Powerball some more. Government monopolizes and promotes about the most regressive scheme in history (let's make a giant number of poor people a little poorer to make one poor person super-rich) and this causes them no shame whatsoever. But, at least after selecting each Powerball winner the government has one new 'fat cat not doing his fair share' to demonize."
One can quibble with Mr. Asness on various details (I think he's a little too easy on the shorts) but it's a good read.