Originally Posted by jimmac
In other words you didn't really read the link.
No, I did read it. I think you're not truly comprehending what they're saying. They are drawing a distinction between people who are guessing and throwing darts at a board (speculators in the common parlance) and those who spend time investigating, studying, researching and carefully placing their money where they believe it will give them a return (investors).
By these definitions, the "speculators" you're whining about are actually investors
(most of them anyway) and people like you and the average Joe on the street buying and selling stocks are speculators
Over the course of the past several decades, the term "investor" has been used for anyone who owns a share of stock. It is important that you understand this is not the case. When a person buys a stock, they are doing it as one of two people: either an investor or a speculator.
What's the difference? An investor is someone who carefully analyzes a company, decides exactly what it is worth, and will not buy the stock unless it is trading at a substantial discount to its intrinsic value. They are able to say, for example, that "Company 'X' is trading for $48 per share, but it is worth $62 per share." They make their investment decisions based on factual data and do not allow their emotions to get involved. A speculator is a person who buys a stock for any other reason. Often, they will buy shares in a company because they are "in play" (which is another way of saying a stock is experiencing higher than normal volume and its shares may be being accumulated or sold by institutions). They buy stock not on the basis of careful analysis, but on the chance it will rise from any cause other than a recognition of its underlying fundamentals. Speculation itself is not necessarily a vice, but its participants must be absolutely willing to accept the fact that they are risking their principal. While it can be profitable in the short term (especially during bull markets), it very rarely provides a lifetime of sustainable income or returns. It should be left only to those who can afford to lose everything they are putting up for stake.
So the people some (like yourself) refer to as "speculators" are actually more likely to be investors (by the definition you have posted) because these people are much more likely to carefully analyze the item they're investing in (a company, a commodity, etc.) than the typical man on the street "investor" who buys AAPL because they like their new iPad.
Now the "speculator" you have been referring to (e.g., oil commodity speculator) is more properly defined here
A person who trades derivatives, commodities, bonds, equities or currencies with a higher-than-average risk in return for a higher-than-average profit potential. Speculators take large risks, especially with respect to anticipating future price movements, in the hope of making quick, large gains.
Speculators are typically sophisticated, risk-taking investors with expertise in the market(s) in which they are trading and will usually use highly leveraged investments such as futures and options.
These people aren't just throwing darts at a board. They are studying, researching and monitoring the commodity and industry in which they invest and speculate (in the sense that they take larger risks...not in the sense that they're guessing.)