Sports Risk Index would allow you to hedge risks on sport prediction markets.

The patent.

The latest developments. (audio)

I am skeptical, since the US Congress has just outlawed movie prediction markets, but I wish good luck to Chris Rabelais et al. Maybe the political scene will be different next year, who knows.

UPDATE: As you&#8217-ve understood, I was talking about CFTC-approved real-money prediction markets, here.

Sports Risk Index would allow you to hedge risks on sport prediction markets.

The patent.

The latest developments. (audio)

I am skeptical, since the US Congress has just outlawed movie prediction markets, but I wish good luck to Chris Rabelais et al. Maybe the political scene will be different next year, who knows.

UPDATE: As you’ve understood, I was talking about CFTC-approved real-money prediction markets, here.

American Civics Exchange = CFTC-regulated Exempt Board of Trade

American Civics Exchange is enabling what InTrade (circa 2006, when they applied for the eBOT status) couldn&#8217-t&#8230- &#8212-getting the CFTC stamp of approval, and running a real-money prediction exchange from within the US territory (as opposed to offshore). The ACE does not have any direct domestic competitor, right now, but HedgeStreet could enter the political turf, later on.


American Civics Exchange is a play-money and real-money prediction exchange focused on politics. Its contracts pay out depending on whether given political outcomes (e.g. enactment of legislation, regulatory decisions, etc.) take place. The contracts are based on the idea of &#8220-event derivatives&#8221- &#8212-pretty much like the weather derivatives that enable companies that are financially exposed to deviations in temperature (utilities, farms, etc.) to hedge that exposure. The ACE political contracts enable any commercial companies to hedge their financial exposure to things like increased tax rates, enactment of harmful legislation, and adverse regulatory decisions. Speculators are also welcome, of course.

The seven initial contracts are:

  1. Increase capital gains/dividend income tax rates-
  2. Elimination of the manufacturers&#8217- tax deduction for oil companies-
  3. Enactment of &#8220-card check&#8221–
  4. Enactment of &#8220-cap and trade&#8221–
  5. The EPA granting California&#8217-s Clean Air Act waiver-
  6. Increase in the minimum wage-
  7. Taxation of carried interest as regular income.

The future prediction markets might feature these topics:

  1. Various new financial services regulations-
  2. Additional industry bailouts-
  3. Major healthcare reform-
  4. FDA drug approvals-
  5. Windfall profits tax on oil companies-
  6. Renegotiation/dissolution of existing trade agreements-
  7. Resolution of major class action lawsuits.

The Delaware-incorporated American Civics Exchange will be operating as an &#8220-exempt board of trade&#8221- pursuant to CFTC regulations, the Commodity Exchange Act, and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. Last week&#8217-s launch consists solely of the play-money prediction exchange, with free accounts available to the general public. In the coming weeks, the real-money prediction exchange will open shop. Eligible contract participants [see 1(a)12] will then fund their accounts and begin live trading.

UPDATE: On February 10, 2009, the American Civics Exchange received an official acknowledgment from David Stawick, Secretary of the CFTC. The CFTC website, however, does not yet list ACE in their directory of eBOTs. It will, ultimately.

What ACE says (in their media kit) about hedging:

To offset a hypothetical $100,000 negative exposure to a proposed increase in the capital gains tax rate, a market participant would place a bid on 1,000 contracts. If that order were filled at $30, the position would cost $30,000 (excluding transaction costs). Matching such a bid does not require a coincident order to sell 10,000 contracts. As with established exchanges, the liquidity of a robust marketplace of buyers and sellers will enable even large orders to be automatically matched to batched bids submitted by an unlimited number of participants, including both speculators and natural hedgers.

If the tax increase is enacted before 12/31/10, the contract holder would receive $100,000, offsetting the impact of the tax increase. The contract holder can also sell the contract back into the marketplace at the prevailing price at any time before the expiration date, provided another party is willing to purchase the contracts at that price.

Press release:

Online Futures Market Enables Participants To Hedge Exposure To Political Events

NEW YORK, March 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ &#8212- American Civics Exchangecorp, Inc. announced today that it has launched The American Civics Exchange, the first US-based commercial market for political futures. The Exchange enables traders to hedge and speculate on political risk through derivative contracts based on the outcomes of underlying events, including increases in tax rates, enactment of &#8220-card check&#8221- legislation, increases in minimum wage rates, enactment of &#8220-cap and trade&#8221- legislation, and other legislative, regulatory, and legal outcomes.

The ability to offset exposure to such events using contracts traded on the Exchange will enable risk managers and investors to reduce unwanted risk and protect themselves from adverse political outcomes. All contracts that trade on the Exchange are binary in nature, meaning they settle at $0 or $100, and are fully cash-collateralized, eliminating any counterparty, credit, or clearing risk.

The Exchange&#8217-s initial launch consists of a &#8220-play money&#8221- market for prospective participants and interested members of the general public. This launch will be followed by the roll-out of the &#8220-real money&#8221- market, which will be open only to eligible contract participants (as defined in the Commodity Exchange Act). The play money market will continue to operate parallel to the real money market and will remain available to individuals not eligible to trade in the live market, members of the press, academic and policy researchers, and other interested parties. In coming weeks, the Exchange will phase in additional collaborative and community-based tools for trading and research.

Philip &#8220-Flip&#8221- Pidot, one of the founders and the CEO of the Exchange, said, &#8220-The inauguration of a new Presidential administration and the unprecedented legislative and regulatory changes being considered in response to the financial crisis have only magnified the bottom-line impact of public policy decisions. For the first time, businesses and individuals have a market-based solution to hedge against these uncertain political risks.&#8221-

The American Civics Exchange operates as an Exempt Board of Trade pursuant to federal law and CFTC regulations. Users can register accounts and trade through the secure online trading platform located at

Requests for additional information can be directed to or (646) 257-2426.

For media inquiries, please contact Audrey Mullen at or (703) 548-1160.

American Civics Exchange

UPDATE: The Hill on ACE&#8230-

At the contrary, mister Kirtland.

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Contra Alex Kirtland, I believe that the development of play-money prediction exchanges using MSR (like HubDub or AskMarkets), which popularity is now proved, is much more important news than stuff about CFTC-regulated, real-money prediction exchanges (like HedgeStreet or the Cantor Exchange), which popularity is uncertain.

Inkling Markets, HubDub and AskMarkets have been techcrunched &#8212-that has not been the case for HedgeStreet or the Cantor Exchange. Practically, that means a great injection of PageRank, hundreds if not thousands of bookmarks, and plenty of new users. That&#8217-s not what I call being &#8220-overshadowed&#8221-.

The InTrade traders are wondering what the future of InTrade is -now that TradeSports has bellied up in style.

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Here are the screen shots of their posts &#8212-before they get removed.

Previously: on TradeSports death – on InTrade&#8217-s viability

After the demise of TradeSports, questions (re-)surface about the viability of InTrade.

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My post about the sudden closure of TradeSports was the #2 most downloaded webpages, yesterday &#8212-even though that post was published late yesterday. And this morning, I am receiving tons of e-mails from the InTrade and TradeSports traders (they are often the same people).

My reasoning:

  1. InTrade is the twin site of TradeSports.
  2. The closure of TradeSports was sudden.
  3. The TradeSports owners have closed shop less than 2 months before the SuperBowl &#8212-the biggest $$$ drawer.
  4. Now that the 2008 US presidential elections are over, the InTrade heyday is over. No more liquidity. No more media coverage. See you in 2010 and 2012.
  5. If TradeSports couldn&#8217-t survive the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, I don&#8217-t see how a lean InTrade could do.
  6. InTrade CEO John Delaney is not a truthful person. It is unlikely that any statement from him about the viability of InTrade should be taken seriously.
  7. Midas Oracle used to received many daily server requests from the InTrade-TradeSports team in Ireland. The recent web stats show a sudden drop. This might signal that some key employees are in vacation &#8212-or have been laid off.
  8. UPDATE: They seem now unable to expire a contract in the evening, Irish time.


  • The InTrade traders should prepare themselves for the worse &#8212-the sudden closure of InTrade.

Chris F. Masse

The New York Times on InTrades US political election prediction markets

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The NYT writers discusses 2 (different?) issues.

#1. There was market arbitrage opportunies in the recent past between InTrade and BetFair &#8212-unlike 4 years ago, and contrary to the laws of economics.

– The price of the Barack Obama event derivative was cheaper on InTrade than on BetFair and the Iowa Electronic Markets. Conversely, the price of the John McCain event derivative was more expensive on InTrade than on BetFair and the Iowa Electronic Markets.

#2. The NYT writer reports (without linking to it) the findings of the InTrade investigation about the behavior of their unnamed &#8220-institutional investor&#8221-.

– InTrade CEO John Delaney suggests that that institutional investor:

  1. might operate on InTrade at specific times where it might not be able to find liquidity on BetFair and/or IEM-
  2. might be a bookmaker willing to hedge its risks on a prediction exchange (a.k.a. betting exchange).

– Justin Wolfers&#8217- PHD student remarks that that institutional investor is not making an effort to shop around for the best prices, within each InTrade political prediction market.

RELATED: See the comments on Midas Oracle here, here, here, and here.

The blogger at Marginal Revolution misinforms the public by repeating the misinterpretation thrown around by liberal hack Paul Krugman about the alleged manipulation on the InTrade prediction markets.

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Alex Tabarrok writes that &#8220-someone was manipulating Intrade to boost John McCain&#8217-s stock price&#8221-.


John Delaney said that that firm has been hedging on InTrade &#8212-a normal and beneficial activity on the other (larger and more liquid) financial markets.

InTrade is not liquid enough to weather (quickly enough) the impact made by the hedging activities, at this time, but will in the future, if growth continues.

Manipulation is bad.

Hedging is good.

InTrade offers an explanation of strange trading.

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Intrade has made a statement on the unusual trading that many have noted and alleged to be manipulative. The statement suggests that the price action is mostly attributable to a single firm, a hedger &#8220-using our markets in good faith and in the ordinary course of their business.&#8221-

The first company that comes to mind is Centrist Messenger. Centrist is an interesting firm that re-sells political ad time and refunds sales to customers whose candidate loses. Centrist has stated publicly that it uses Intrade to hedge this exposure.* If Centrist had something to do with the unusual trading, it suggests that they sold more Obama than McCain ads, creating exposure to a GOP victory, resulting in McCain buys and Obama sales on Intrade. Why such a firm would be such urgent price-takers isn&#8217-t fully explained.

Whether or not it was Centrist isn&#8217-t important, but as these markets mature we should expect them to attract more hedging activity, and this might introduce persistent price distortions. Indeed it makes sense for people in the top tax bracket to be long Obama apart from considerations of his chances of victory. This is another uncomfortable subject that I&#8217-ve warned about in the past. When these markets become deeper and more widely available, the odds of the high-tax candidates might begin to show an upwards bias, a risk premium. Interestingly, Musto and Yilmaz predict that such markets will eventually lead to increased promises of redistribution by candidates. Talk about unintended consequences.

Intrade is doing the right thing here though, dealing with tough issues realistically and with as much transparency as possible. They provide valuable information, for free, even in places where they are not necessarily welcome. The depth of this information helps us to evaluate Intrade prices and have more confidence in them. Here is an example below, based on Obama&#8217-s market over the past two weeks. Some have noted that the purported attacks occurred in hours where the market was unusually thin. This chart measures such price manipulability. The red line represents the ease of a downwards attack. It is the 100 x the amount of margin required to sweep the top fifteen bids divided by the difference between the highest bid and the fifteenth highest bid. (That is, how much the probability of an Obama victory can be moved by risking $100. Commissions are not taken into account but would of course would be vital.) The green line is the ease of an upwards attack. This is a very preliminary study and I will leave it to others to voice initial impressions. The fact that we can gauge to what extent traders are exercising market power is in itself important and encouraging however.

* Technically another firm does the trading. Centrist is incorporated in the US, and the trading firm is incorporated in St. Kitts. Through this arrangement, Centrist cleverly avoids violating UIGEA.

[Cross-posted from Risk Markets and Politics ]

There is no manipulation going on in the InTrade political prediction markets.

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– InTrade CEO John Delaney has conducted an investigation on the alleged manipulation. The suspicious moves in prices were in fact caused by the buying and selling made by an &#8220-institutional&#8221- trader (a hedge fund, I presume) who has been managing &#8220-certain risks&#8221- (hedging).

– Jason Ruspini, who wrote before this report came out, does believe that manipulations &#8220-non-informational&#8221- trades have been prevalent on InTrade. (We will see whether Jason changes his mind in light of InTrade&#8217-s debunking report.)