Weekend Reading: Is Investing a Zero-Sum Game?

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

From a high level, investing might seem like a zero-sum game, like poker, but as much as these two areas share similarities, investing is much more than that.


The reality: With zero sum, the output is zero net progress. Despite the craziness that is occurring in the economy, we have – and continue to see – progress. The idea that “there is a fixed amount of income or wealth in a society and that one person can only increase their income or wealth by taking some income or wealth from someone else” is a fallacy. Humans will continue to grow, build, make discoveries and solve problems, so when you take the bet to invest in the stock market, you’re also betting on these things to happen (they will, and this is a positive sum).

Is all investing positive sum? Keep in mind that not every investment is positive sum ALL of the time. As we all know, markets can be zero or negative sum. So can crypto and endless other investments out there. But overall, investors have the confidence in knowing humans will always work to improve our surroundings, and our productive nature is what makes investing worthwhile.

Always remember: Investing is, by definition, not a zero-sum game. Above all, we are investing for growth and progress.