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.

James Lemieux, whom Koleman Strumpf plugged to us, is a marketing professor researching on, among others, decision analysis. Quite on target. Take a look at his website by right-clicking on the image posted below.

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Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • A second look at HedgeStreet’s comment to the CFTC about “event markets”
  • Since YooPick opened their door, Midas Oracle has been getting, daily, 2 or 3 dozens referrals from FaceBook.
  • US presidential hopeful John McCain hates the Midas Oracle bloggers.
  • If you have tried to contact Chris Masse thru the Midas Oracle Contact Form, I’m terribly sorry to inform you that your message was not delivered to the recipient.
  • “Over a ten-year period commencing on January 1, 2008, and ending on December 31, 2017, the S & P 500 will outperform a portfolio of funds of hedge funds, when performance is measured on a basis net of fees, costs and expenses.”
  • Meet professor Thomas W. Malone (on the right), from the MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence.

Faulty polls screw up the political prediction markets. – REDUX – The no polls case, now.

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Two days ago, I stated brashly that political prediction markets aggregate the polls, mainly. (Mike Linksvayer nuanced my propos, in the comment area.)

GOP Keeps Senate, Loses House, Betting Site Says. – [US political prediction markets] – by Ronald Kessler – 2006-10-24

One theory is that prediction markets are influenced by the results of opinion polls. But if that were true, individual polls would also influence each other. Moreover, long before the Internet and opinion polls came into existence, election betting was accurately predicting election outcomes. From 1884 to 1940, betting was conducted on Wall Street by specialized brokers called betting commissioners. The betting odds for each candidate were published daily in the New York Times and other papers. The so-called New York betting markets correctly predicted 12 of the 13 presidential elections between 1884 and 1940, according to Koleman S. Strumpf, Koch professor of economics, University of Kansas School of Business, who co-authored a paper examining the markets. In the one exception, the betting swung to even odds by the time the polls closed. The Gallup Poll, the first scientific opinion poll, began in 1935. The arrival of opinion polls and stricter anti-gambling laws drove out the New York betting markets. The Internet has led to their revival.

Paper: Historical Prediction Markets: Wagering on Presidential Elections – (PDF) – by Paul W. Rhode and Koleman S. Strumpf – 2003-11-10

My Question: Before 1935 (that&#8217-s when George Gallup crafted the first scientific polls), what the hell those political prediction markets were aggregating, for Christ&#8217-s sake??? And where is our good doctor Koleman Strumpf when we need him?

Previous blog posts by Chris F. Masse:

  • Become “friend” with me on Google E-Mail so as to share feed items with me within Google Reader.
  • Nigel Eccles’ flawed “vision” about HubDub shows that he hasn’t any.
  • How does InTrade deal with insider trading?
  • Modern Life
  • “The Beacon” is an excellent blog published by The Independent Institute.
  • The John Edwards Non-Affair… is making Memeorandum (twice), again.
  • Prediction Markets = marketplaces for information trading… and for separating the wheat from the chaff.