Prediction Markets in the Classroom: Inkling Markets

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hile prediction markets have been in the spotlight this year, they are still unfamiliar to many folks. As one small step towards improving their visibility, along with my colleague James Lemieux I ran a prediction market at the University of Kansas School of Business. The markets ran for three and a half months and almost all traders were undergraduate business majors (you can see the very end stages of the market at:, username: myfoxkc and password: myfoxkc).

These markets were quite popular. The 475 traders made over 27,000 transactions in the 139 available markets. As a matter of reference, that is about 200 transactions per market while in Google&#8217-s market this ratio is 260.

There was a mix of both socially redeeming topics (issues of interest to the Business School such as how many internships the undergrads would get this school year) and others designed to attract interest (politics, sports, entertainment, finance). I was surprised to see that passions&#8211- and trade volume&#8211- ran quite high even in the more serious markets. For example, one contract&#8217-s expiry was based on whether the XM-Sirius merger would be consummated by March. When the DOJ announced its approval at the end of that month, there was only a small price increase. As the comments below suggest, this was not because the traders were asleep at the wheel but rather because they had a good understanding of the regulatory environment.

Inkling Markets provided the platform for our markets (if you are unfamiliar with Inkling, they have active public markets which you can sample). Inkling&#8217-s software and support is really ideal for classroom markets. There are nice features for both the people running the markets (James and I) as well as for traders (the students).

For the market admin:

– it is a snap to set-up and administer new contracts

– Adam Siegel and Nate Kontny are very responsive to questions, often responding within the hour

For traders:

– an intuitive trade interface, which is accessible even for those without experience with financial markets (though this can be a drawback if you would also like students to become familiar with order books)

– lots of goodies (customizable profile pages, market-specific discussion boards, graphs) leads students to visit the market a lot

– the daily/weekly top traders list encourages participation

I would strongly recommend others give prediction markets in the classroom a try. I found them to be both a great pedagogical tool and also one which the students really, really like. Students learned first hand about the role of information discovery as well as the biases often seen in prediction markets (though I will add it was difficult to illustrate the home town bias given the success of the athletic teams at my school this year). Feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions about how to set-up your own classroom markets.