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Donald Trump, the risk-taker, is gambling with lives

Niall Ferguson

By Niall Ferguson (original source The Globe and Mail) 

“We who only bet occasionally on a horse race are fascinated by true gamblers: those who frequent not only casinos and stock markets, but also the pages of history. We normal folk tend to think of two types of gambler. There is Fyodor Dostoevsky’s compulsive gambler, who cannot resist the lure of the roulette wheel – who ruins himself by betting and betting.

Then there is the gambler as master speculator: Charles Dickens’s Merdle, Anthony Trollope’s Augustus Melmotte – both loosely based on Nathan Rothschild – or our own age’s George Soros. This kind of gambler calculates the odds of each bet carefully.

Yet there is a third kind of gambler, who lies between these extremes. He wins some; he loses some. He does not gamble to become a billionaire. He gambles for the sheer love of gambling. The risk-lover bets every day on the basis of his intuition – his gut. To him, the bet is an act of will, intended as much to dominate the counterparty as to make money. The bravado is the point.”

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