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Today’s Link Bait

1. Guess which governor wants to spring non-violent drug users from prison? (HT: Ivan Kronenfeld)

2. Will the U.S. get its own InTrade to all betting on Presidential elections?

3. A fixie index shows a surprising capital of hipster bikes.

4. Can birdsong really kill crime? (I am skeptical; related.) (HT: Chad Troutwine)





Question of the Day: What Boomerangs in Value?

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:

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.

Read More »





Is Mitt Romney Less Well-Known Than He Was in 2007?

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 »





Odds of a Double Dip: A Sampling of Opinions. Plus, Wolfers on Twitter

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.”

Justin has had a busy today on Twitter. Clearly, he flipped heads this morning. Here’s a sampling of what he’s been tweeting about: Read More »





Prediction Markets on the Debt Ceiling, U.S. Credit Downgrade

Over at Intrade, there are two “hot” markets involving the odds that Congress will raise the U.S. debt ceiling.

- Congress to approve increase in U.S. debt ceiling before midnight on July 31, 2011: 40% (It was 65% a month ago)

- Congress to approve increase in U.S. debt ceiling before midnight Aug. 31, 2011: 75% (It was 85% a month ago)

And at Irish bookmaker PaddyPower.com, here is the line on a Moody’s downgrade:

Will Moody’s downgrade the U.S.?

-Yes: 9/2

-No: 1/8





Was There Insider Trading on DSK News?

A month ago, we ran a post featuring a handful of the latest odds on Intrade, including the chances (84% at the time) that Dominique Strauss-Kahn would be found guilty of at least one charge. Those odds have dropped below 10% in the last week, on the news that his accuser may have credibility issues. But when exactly did that price move start?

Reader Chris Reed wrote in asking us to look into the possibility that there was insider trading in the prediction markets on the DSK news. The initial New York Times piece that broke the story that the DSK trial was on the verge of collapse was first posted online Thursday night, June 30, before appearing on the front page of Friday’s paper. The Times doesn’t time-stamp its articles, but the Huffington Post does. Their story linking to the Times piece is time-stamped 9:38 PM ET. Read More »





The Folly of Prediction: Full Transcript

Stephen J. DUBNER: What does it mean to be a witch exactly in Romania? Are these people that we know here as psychics or fortunetellers, or are they different somehow? Vlad MIXICH: I don’t know how is the fortuneteller in the United States. But here generally they are a woman of different ages. They can–they […] Read More »





Newt’s Not the News: Prediction Markets Double Rick Perry’s Chances for GOP Nomination

OK, so Newt Gingrich’s senior staff have quit. But Newt’s not the news. At least according to the political prediction markets. The real news is that Texas Governor Rick Perry is likely to enter the Republican nomination race. The connection, of course, is that many of the staffers who quit have close ties to Governor Perry.

The figure below tells the story. (Click inside for graph). Since yesterday’s announcement, you can see the markets have re-evaluated Perry’s chances of winning the nomination from around 5%, up to 11%. There’s a tip here for newsgatherers: Focus on the details, and you’ll notice that the Perry’s prediction market rally began just after 11am. But the story broke three hours later, just before 3pm. Read More »