In his New York Times column today, Paul Krugman uses the term "rent-seeking":
... the rapid growth in finance since 1980 has largely been a matter of rent-seeking, rather than true productivity.
It was a new one on me, so I looked it up.
Wikipedia says that, basically, rent-seeking means making money by exploiting economic factors instead of by producing something that creates real wealth.
Nice to know I'm not the only who's noticed how often this seems to happen.