Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Big Aggregators

Friday morning I wanted to know where the rumors were pointing to for McCain's running mate selection. I could have searched various political blogs, but instead I went to Intrade and checked out the current prices on VP candidates. Since Intrade has constant trading, these prices do aggregate the various rumors and their veracity. Sarah Palin was running at about 60%. Apparantly I was not the only one with this idea has Intrade had major performance problems on Friday.

After seeing the price for Palin, I had a question many other Americans were asking: Who is Sarah Palin? So I went to that other great aggregator Wikipedia and read up on her. The scariest part: For the first time, someone on a major party ticket is younger than me.

The wisdom of crowds boiled down to a number on a trading site and a constantly updated page with much more than I need to know. The rest of the Internet is just commentary.

Some graphs of Intrade's market on the Palin market lifetime and in the last day.

Two things to note: The markets didn't predict Palin until close to the end. Also big volatility in the closing hours. Market aggregate public information—they don't predict what isn't out there. In the last hours, even little rumors, accurate or inaccurate, can drive prices as some people try to make a fast buck.

Chris Maase's blog as always has much more Palin and all other things about prediction markets. Also check out the new Intrade.net which now has do it yourself prediction markets.

I created a simple widget for our Electoral Markets Map. You can see in on the left sidebar until the election and always have the most up to date account of who's ahead state by state.


  1. Also, Intrade has a market on Palin being withdrawn as VP nominee before the election. This contract is currently at 10, down from as high as 18 earlier this morning.

  2. You know that Palin's wikipedia page was scrubbed the night before she was nominated, right?


  3. Nice post. I've followed UK politics and reality TV using the betting markets for years. That was one of the reasons I set up Hubdub, which is a play money prediction market. As you note, a single number can cut through all the noise.

    We've got about 300 politics markets including whether Palin will drop out: http://www.hubdub.com/m14929/Will_Sarah_Palin_step_down_as_the_VP_nominee_before_the_november_election (currently trading at 19%)

    I like the way you have widgetized your election map. Here is our map: http://www.hubdub.com/election_map

  4. Interest link, Anonymous! Perhaps there is something to be said about predictions for the prediction markets: using unusual Wikipedia activity ("high volatility" of Palin page in this instance) as an indication of "inside" information that could be acted upon on (virtually unregulated) prediction markets like intrade.

  5. By the way, I believe both CNN and CNBC were pushing Intrade late last week, which probably accounted for some of their performance issues.

  6. I tried to reconstruct the proof on the fly. I ended up with a proof ..... It is a complex subject and one can perhaps write a dissertation on it ... You need to prove P=NP to communicate with the dead. ... Jesus: 260000000; Lincoln: 212000000; Beatles: 88200000 (They once said they were more popular than Jesus". ...