Some of my friends back in Vietnam got rich. Very rich. And very quickly. How did they achieve that success? Did they start successful companies? Did they make brilliant inventions and get big returns? No. What they did was simple, yet difficult to replicate.
They bought and sold stocks. That was not unusual. A lot of people did that, though most failed. What was “brilliant” was that they got internal intel and, as a consequence, made “good” investments. Oh, I forgot to mention that the stock market in Vietnam has been a mess and very unfair (in my opinion). Funny was that my friends did not hide that fact. It was no secret. They told me what they did, although they never told me, let alone shared with me, their intel sources 🙂 There were other “dirty” tricks that I believed they did, but they did not admit, so I was unable to confirm.
They also bought and sold golds.
In general, I have no problem with their ways of making money. A lot of people are getting rich in the same way. My only concern is that, by making money in those ways, did they really make any good to the nation’s economy? Did they create real goods of real values for the society? Or did they just get money from others’ pockets into theirs, i.e. get rich at the loss of other (unlucky) people? I’m no economic expert, so I don’t have definite answers to those questions. However, in my opinion, the answers are NO. They didn’t create real values. There were no values added by producing goods or improving things.
As an engineer, I always prefer making money by producing things, either directly (e.g. manufacture certain products) or indirectly (e.g. provide services to companies/people who make things). I believe it is more sustainable. I think it is fine when an individual or a family make extra money by investing in stocks and golds (but please make the market fair). However, I think it is not fine when too many people in a society make money in that way while few people produce real goods, especially in a country where manufacturing technology is extremely low as Vietnam.
To answer the question in the title, I would choose “to produce.”
Just my 2 cents.
Update: just came across a post by Prof. Nguyen Van Tuan, in which there is a sentence related to this post:
Ngày này, với sự thống trị của tư bản tài chính, không hẳn như thế nữa, thằng giỏi sản xuất, quản lý hay buôn bán “lương thiện” không bằng thằng giỏi lừa dối, cứ coi hedge funds thì thấy.