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The Latest Odds on Palin, Ahmadinejad, Strauss-Kahn, and … Another Recession?

Interesting browsing these days on the prediction market InTrade, which is still mourning the loss of its founder John Delaney (a man I very much enjoyed knowing a bit the past few years):
1. Barack Obama to be re-elected President in 2012: 62.0% chance
2. Mitt Romney to be Republican Presidential Nominee in 2012: 29.6%
3. Sarah Palin to formally announce a run for President before midnight ET on 31 Dec 2011: 41.9%
4. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to no longer be President of Iran before midnight ET 31 Dec 2011: 31.0%
5. Dominique Strauss-Kahn to be guilty of at least one charge: 84.0%
6. Christine Lagarde to be named the next Managing Director of the IMF: 85.0%
7. The U.S. Economy will go into Recession during 2012: 20.0%

We should assume that Nos. 1 and 7 are inversely correlated. I went to the site this morning looking to see if there’s a contract out on Lloyd Blankfein, having read this (NYT) article, but I don’t see one (yet?).

Heart + Mind? Or Just Heart? Experiments in Aid Effectiveness (And a Contest!)

When signing our book, More Than Good Intentions, Jacob Appel and I often sign “Heart + Mind = Good Giving.” Nobody argues with the premise that we should act with compassion, but be smart about it. Of course nobody would ever say they do not care about the effectiveness of the charity they support.

But in practice, does evidence about charitable effectiveness impact donations? Or does the presentation of dorky evidence turn off the emotions that cause us to donate in the first place? Read More »

R.I.P. John Delaney, Prediction Market Entrepreneur

I’m saddened to learn that John Delaney died attempting to reach the summit of Everest. Readers of this blog will know John as the leader of my favorite prediction market, InTrade (and before that, TradeSports). John, or his data, and sometimes his stories, have long graced the pages of this blog, including this Q&A with Dubner. His colleagues know him as an energetic entrepreneur, always trying new things. I also know John as a friend and a collaborator, who was also willing to help crazy academics like myself run new prediction markets, crunch data his markets had generated, or debate what it all means, over a Guinness.

And as much as I knew John as a madcap Irishmen, and true sports fan, I never expected to hear of him drawing his last breath just meters short of the highest peak in the world. Press reports — which include the agonizing detail that John died without knowing his wife just gave birth to a baby girl – are available here and here.

FREAK-est Links

What’s next in public transportation? Urban gondolas? The most expensive textbook ever. Osama Bin Laden on InTrade: you could have made a fortune. Maybe. Someone actually yelled “Stop the Presses” in 2011. The real reason machines and the internet won’t replace secretaries. Space shuttle launch delay has a big price tag. Read More »

A Prediction Market Trading Pit for the Digital Age: A Guest Post From David Pennock

David Pennock is one of the smartest guys I know. As a scientist at Yahoo! Research, he’s on the bleeding edge of computer scientists working at the interface with economics. His latest project, called Predictalot, is an amazing new prediction market which allows people to trade on the millions of possible outcomes of the Sweet Sixteen. It’s a brilliant example of just why economists are going to have to get cozy with computer scientists. And David has generously agreed to provide a guest post describing what he’s up to. (And if you want more, he writes the always-interesting Oddhead Blog). Read More »

"Billionaires Vs. Millionaires": Five Things You Don’t Know About the NFL Labor Standoff

Are you ready for some … labor negotiations? Yes, the National Football League held a nice Super Bowl just a couple weeks ago – the Green Bay Packers beat my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, sadly. Still, it was the most-watched TV program in U.S. history. So: everyone in the NFL family must be happy, right? Read More »

Middle East Despot Watch

I’ve been watching developments in the Middle East and Northern Africa closely. It can be hard to keep track of it all. Fortunately, the prediction markets at InTrade provide a useful barometer. Read More »

Witches to Be Held Accountable for Bad Predictions; Why Only Them?

In Romania, life has gotten even harder for practicing witches, as spelled out in a recent A.P. article: “A month after Romanian authorities began taxing them for their trade, the country’s soothsayers and fortune tellers are cursing a new bill that threatens fines or even prison if their predictions don’t come true.” Read More »