Traders on the Ireland based Intrade prediction market are investing real money on the chances of various political wins, in the US and elsewhere. Current odds include:
Democratic front-runner Barack Obama an 86 percent chance of being the Democratic presidential nominee, versus a 12.8 percent for Clinton, the New York senator and former first lady. [Reuters via Yahoo! News]
Besides Presidential elections, “stock options” include whether or not the US will boycott the Beijing Olympics, and, of special interest to California Faultine readers, if an “earthquake measuring 9.0 or more on Richter scale (will) occur anywhere on/before Dec 31 2008.” (the stock is valued at 12 points, compared to the 9 point value of a Clinton White House win).
In an interview with Freakenomics, Intrade head honcho John Delaney answered the obvious legality question this way: “It’s very difficult for our legal folks to know the exact attitudes, laws, precedents etc. of every country, but they do try.”
If you’re worried about putting your money where your armchair pundit mouth is (or you still question the legality of betting on U.S. elections), two “pretend money” speculative prediction markets exist:
The National Journal Political Stock Exchange may not trade in real dollars, but the highest performing trader as at the end of election day in November will win a $1000 Visa gift certificate – monthly prize winners can receive a Sirius radio and service. The NJPSE has a relatively conservative stock offering, but includes projections of the remaining Democratic primaries and Senate and Gubernatorial races in states that have them. The current value of shares include an Obama nomination at $86.50 against Clinton’s at $12.30, while a McCain Presidential win is at a respectable $39.90
The Washington Stock Exchange, another just for fun option, appears to have been largely abandoned, albeit open to manipulation. The last update on its informational blog is from November 2006, and among its most actively traded stocks includes bets that the 22nd Amendment will be repealed by January 2008. However, in the last 24 hours the value of a potential Republican 2008 White House win has spiked to almost 100 to 1… or has Rush Limbaugh asked his listeners to start playing?
UPDATE: Newsfutures is another prediction market game with prizes, but has a much more robust selection of “stocks,” including whethere the Avian Flu will arrive in the US or Europe first (odd are 87% for east of the Atlantic), if Bush will pardon Scooter Libby (58% likely), and if Jenna Bush’s scheduled June marriage wil actually happen (96% – such romantics!). [h/t Alexis]