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InTrade, the Dublin-based prediction market (i.e., betting platform) that we’ve written about regularly over the years (including a Q&A with its founder, John Delaney, who has since died), is under legal scrutiny from U.S. regulators and will therefore stop taking bets from U.S. customers. Here is InTrade’s statement, and here is the CFTC’s press release on the shutdown. What will U.S. regulators do next, outlaw online poker?
FiveThirtyEighter Nate Silver Answers Your Questions About Politics, Baseball, and The Signal and the Noise
We recently solicited your questions for Nate Silver regarding his new book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — But Some Don’t. Not too surprisingly, a lot of the questions were about politics and baseball. Below are Nate’s answers to some of them. Thanks to him for playing along and to all of you (as always) for sending in the excellent questions.
Q. Under what circumstances will a voter actually change his/her mind about whom to vote for? I understand that this rarely happens (this study for example), and that most of the action involves undecided voters deciding whom to vote for.
Also, if political scientist are right that voters rarely change their minds, how can a large swing in the polls ever occur? A classic example that your briefly mention in your book is that of Michael Dukakis, who was ahead of GHW Bush by 10% at one point in 1988. -Alan T
A. We see more big shifts in the primaries, when voters don’t have that much information about the candidates. Dukakis was a relative unknown at the start of the 1988 race, before the two parties could advance their own narratives. You rarely see big swings in voter conversion in late stage presidential races, though. If I knew how to cause such a swing, I’d be drawing a big salary from one of the campaigns right now. Read More »
For years, I have argued that the best way to track what really matters through election season is to follow the political prediction markets. The one difficulty is that these markets aren’t really available to the general public. Sure, the University of Iowa runs a market, but because it’s for research purposes, the maximum bet is set at only $500. And while I track InTrade closely, they’re based in Ireland, and are frowned upon by American regulators. Likewise, Betfair won’t deal with American customers. But all that may be about to change. Read More »
Our latest podcast, “Weird Recycling,” is about the unlikely reuse of cast-off items. A reader named Gavin Castleton just happened to write in with an appealing riddle in the same vein:
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Has there ever been a good/product whose value was reduced to zero, but somehow rose again? If so, could you shed any light on the market dynamics or social catalysts that revived it?
To put my question in context: I’m researching the music industry’s rocky transition from goods to services (download/physical goods to streaming music subscription services). Journalists, industry folk, and consumers are all quite fond of declaring “Music will be free. It’s obvious and inevitable.” But I started to wonder if it really was all that inevitable. So I started looking for other examples of a product that lost its monetary value completely, but somehow returned from the dead.
According to a new Pew Research Center poll, while 54 percent of Americans are able to name at least one GOP presidential candidate, the leading candidates aren’t named as often as in previous years. Only 27 percent of Americans named Mitt Romney and only 28 percent named Rick Perry. That’s below the same measure taken four years ago in October 2007, when 45 percent could name Rudy Giuliani and 30 percent could name Romney. So, well into his second campaign for president, Romney is now less well-known than he was four years ago, when he ran the first time around. Not exactly encouraging.
Also, it’s interesting that Perry is still more recognizable than Romney, despite having fallen in the polls recently — especially since Perry got into the race only about two months ago, and Romney’s been running for much of the last four years. Chalk it up to the Texas swagger versus consultant technocrat? Read More »
Today, it seems that everyone has their own opinion on who helped themselves and who didn’t in last night’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate. And consensus is hard to come by, even in the same news room.
Take the Washington Post, for example. On its PostPartisan blog, first Richard Cohen wants us to think that Rick Perry was the “Big Loser” of the night. But then 90 minutes later, his colleague Marc Thiessen weighs in saying that Perry “had a very good night.” Rather than relying on Beltway journalists to decide won and who lost, I figured: why not see what the market is saying? So I headed over to Intrade to take a look at the odds for who will wind up as the 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee.
It does appear that Perry is slipping after last night’s debate. Even in the time it took me to put this blog post together, he’s lost a percentage point, going from 37.5% to 36.4%. While Mitt Romney has remained even so far today at 36.3%. These markets are of course fluid, but here’s a snapshot of the current Intrade odds for each candidate at last night’s debate, and how they’ve moved over the last week. Read More »
So by now you’re hopefully aware that the stock market completely bombed today. As I type, the Dow is down more than 500 points, its worst day since December 2008. (Official day’s tally is -512.76) And just like that it seems, the recovery is over. Well it was fun while it lasted; kind of.
Our resident macro economic guru Justin Wolfers has come up for air from his Twitter experiment (follow him @justinwolfers) and sent over this interesting sample of recent opinions from a handful of economically savvy folks, all giving their odds of the economy entering another recession:
Larry Summers: “at least a 1-in-3 chance.”
Marty Feldstein: “now a 50 percent chance.”
Ryan Avent: “more likely than not.”
Justin Wolfers: “40% chance and peak was 4 months ago” and “The guacamole has spoken.”
Don Kohn, Vincent Reinhart, Brian Madigan: “between 20% and 40%.”
Matt Yglesias: “precisely 31.22%.”
Brad DeLong: “the odds now are 50-50.”
Christy Romer: “The risks have gone up…compared to where we were six months ago.”
Bob Hall: “We certainly are in a more vulnerable situation now.”
Jeff Frankel: “not necessarily enough to push the probability over one half.”
Jay Carney: “we do not believe that there is a threat there of a double-dip recession.”