Thursday, August 31, 2006


As I have alluded to earlier I am a libertarian… NOT to be confused with a liberal. I believe that the burden of proof falls on the Government to show that society needs its interaction. So long as I harm no one other then myself I feel I have the right to do it. I believe that personal liberties should be strongly protected and I also believe that the closest thing to a national religion (our founding fathers) also agreed with these ideals. That is one reason why I feel so strongly against the gambling bill.

If you are reading this and you truly believe in the rights of the individual to gamble over the internet on sporting events then we are at a point when we need to decide if we are going to do anything about it. Personally I have contacted both of my Senators and my Congressman, and encouraged (successfully) for my sister, mother, and two friends of mine to do the same. Not one response as my Congressman voted for the bill, and I can only assume that my Senators will do the same if given the opportunity. So if in fact we want to make a difference what should we do? It occurred to me that perhaps the answers were to find an organization that would have sympathy for us and contact them on our behalf and encourage them to fight the just fight.

This brought me to looking into the ACLU. After all, their stated mission:

"to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States”.

So I reached out to them via email. More on that later.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Box Office Blog

I do not trade futures on box office returns. I have never taken the time and energy to research the mechanics of the market. All I know is that “Aquaman” from Entourage broke Spiderman’s record. But for anyone who does trade futures on movie box office returns may find this Freakonomics blog interesting.

In other news:

As many traders know greed isn’t always a bad thing, but when you’re a PR machine like MLB this is certainly a black eye. Its not enough that they bribe economists to lie about the benefits of publicly subsidized stadiums, then bribe the politicians to ignore the truth. Now their doing everything they can to suck every ounce of money from us. This time from our fantasy leagues.

For anyone who is intersted this seems to be the deal (and I must admit I do not have the time and energy to research this to speak with 100% confidence). Baseball statistics are within the public domain. If Barry Bonds hits a home run people are allowed to collect that information and process for fantasy purposes. But for some reason, if we want to use his likeness, or the team names and logos we still need their permission. For those interested the Leagues negotiate with the players unions for an agreement to use their images for video games (some leagues restrict this to one supplier). In addition any individual player has the right to refuse to sign the rights to negotiate on their behalf away to the players union. This is why we never got to see Michael Jordan in the old video games (NBA Jam), and why we see no Barry Bonds (this adds to the long list of reasons the players dislike Bonds). Like I said, I’m not 100% sure I’m dead on with the terms of this deal. I am still trying to figure out the difference between allowing a venue to do fantasy sports without anyone’s permission, and produce video games without anyone’s permission. In addition this is all pending an appeal filed by MLB. God forbid they lose out on their chunk of my $15 league fee that is allocated toward the site managment. When you think of all the benefit fantasy sports brings you would think they would subsidize its use, not try to restrict it.

Lieberman's contract is in the low 60's. This could start to get interesting...

Sunday, August 27, 2006


One of my favorite change of pace writers is P.J. O’Rourke. He is a fellow libertarian who happens to be a great writer and humorist. In his book titled “Eat the Rich” he travels around the world examining different economic systems with the goal to figuring out why some work while some others fail. He goes to areas where socialism works, where it doesn’t work, where capitalism does not work, and naturally where it does work. Where better to go where capitalism works then to Wall Street? And so after experiencing the hectic lives and opposing points of views of traders he comes to this great epiphany:

“”What,” I asked all the Wall Street people I interviewed, “does the investment industry give to society?”
But this time they had an answer.
“Liquidity,” said the $2 billion money manager.
“Liquidity,” said the investment banker who’d described how men’s thoughts were on pecuniary B-girls.
“Liquidity,” said the other investment banker who’d told me things could move stupidly.
“Liquidity,” said the Irish specialist broker.
“It provides liquidity,” said David
Liquidity is the Wall Street word for having things you can do with your money and being able to do them. Liquidity is the essence of the free market…”

I follow economics so I understood what he was talking about but I did not appreciate it until I began to trade on tradesports. As far as gamblers go until now a liquidity problem was when you ran out of credit on all your local bookies. This is the key understanding gap that would bring in more people ot tradesports. More liquidity is good for all tradesports traders. Liquidity in tradesports provides information on future outcome of events, it provides more opportunities to trade, and most importantly it provides a convergence toward efficiency. If you are a gambler with limited experience in tradesports it is liquidity you want to focus on as it is the key to understanding how to make tradesports work in your advantage.

Had my fantasy football draft today, so I'm out of steam. Trying to win it for the 3rd straight year. In case your into Baseball Prospectus you should check out the web site by the guys who wrote Football Prospectus. It give a very interesting point of view into the sport of football.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Winner’s Curse

For those familiar with this site should know quite well about the recent gambling bill that was passed by the US House of Representatives. Now it goes to the Senate which leads us to the '>gambling bill contract in tradesports. The contract is currently trading in the $15-$25 range. My question is does this price reflect the true probability of the outcome of this event? I feel there is a winner’s curse at play here, when the winner of the contract is left with something less valuable then they anticipated. The recent developments of the Betonsports website are a startling one. To quote from the article:

“In a statement issued to the London Stock Exchange, BetonSports said it hoped to refund balances to U.S. gamblers and to pay some salaries of employees in Costa Rica and Antigua, where the company's offshore operations are located.

Those payments, however, "will depend upon the company's ability to persuade banks and cash processors to release its funds."

Granted this is a different situation then if the gambling act was approved by the Senate. In that case tradesports’ assets presumably would not be frozen as it appears as though betonsports has. None the less this creates uncertainly. A quick quote from the pit many weeks ago when this was a hot topic (I saved it and changed the names since I never asked for their permission)

Person 1: I doubt it will pass, yet it has an effect, I have far less in here than times past
Person 2: true..whatever i have here...if it's gone so be it...
Person 2: of course my far less is prob a lot less than
Person 1: at one point had some decent change in here, a bit hesitant right now
Person 1: it's all relaitve 2, to each his own

So not only is the prospect of this contract driving some liquidity away from tradesports, it distorts the gambling contract price. Who wants to “win” a contract that brings assets that may or may not be usable? Just to set the record straight, if this bill does in fact pass we should get a check in the mail for the reminder of our balance. But anyone who tells you it does not create perceived uncertainty has not examined the issue.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Inefficiency vs. Personal Bias

Looking past BannedChatter’s selfish promotion for his new site in the latest comment (at least comment on my article!) I decided to take quick look at his site. Aside from the appealing photos (adults only) there wasn’t much other then personal opinions. It got me thinking of the key to successful sports gambling. In my opinion the key is the recognition between market inefficiencies and any personal bias we carry over every time we watch a game. Run differentials are about as sophisticated as BCLI gets. So why should we take this into consideration, and how much confidence do we have in it as a parameter? What kind of betting strategy is there for us with this information? How do we process it?

On to other items:
The Ted Lilly confrontation is interesting for alot of reasons. If this is in fact the “sinking ship” that Shea Hillenbrand subtly suggested on the Jay’s chalk board it appears as though the captain just bailed (or at least got cabin fever and lost it). Maybe there’s value in the under for the total wins contract.

There was a lot of activity yesterday in the Democratic Primary contracts. I wonder if anything happened that slipped under my radar. Our favorite '>Ex-first lady seems to be taking the worst of it as her contract to win the primary has fallen about 10 points over the last month or so. Is there a connection to Lieberman (and his similar pro-war vote)? If this is the case, why all the activity yesterday? (I tried again to post this chart and this link was the best I could do. If anyone knows how to do this please give me a heads up)

On the Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey front, here is some harsh criticism. Now, I normally don’t take these things personally, but as my wife and I have been trying to have kids for quite some time this type of thing is disturbing.

Glad to see Verlander is back, a healthy Verlander is all Detroit need (in addition to what they already have) to carry the AL Central division (and win that contract). Now the big question is what to do when Maroth comes back?

Thats all for now. Take care all.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Polls vs. Information Markets

Back to the Lieberman issue, with some more from my enlightening conversation with AlanBStard I mentioned a few posts below:

AlanBStard: It is interesting that it's trading much closer than the PA Senate race, which polls indicate is getting very close. 6 point difference as of yesterday, and polls tend to skew toward Dems.
AlanBStard: Market didn't respond at all. I picked up a Santorum at 21.5 just for kicks.
Diem: poll bias?
AlanBStard: At times. Even if not, the difference is still approaching the margin of error, and Casey hasn't done much of note recently. Quinnipac's analysis that he was merely losing votes to the Greens doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

This got me thinking about the correlation between polls and zero sum contracts such as the ones offered at tradesports. Imagine two campaigns taking place, both with two candidates. In each the lead candidate is ahead by 55%. The difference between the two campaigns is that the election in the first is a day away, while the election in the second is six months away. Would they trade at the same price? No, we would be more confident in the first campaign’s expected outcome, and I would expect the price to trade at closer to $99 then $55, while in the first I would not be surprised if the contract traded closer to $55. A new confidence interval would be useful (aside from the typical +/- a small percentage). Purhaps that is what makes this style of information markets so attractive. Maybe this is very obvious to those who follow polls, it is new to me so I bring it up. An update on the race.

On to less important matters. More proof the Cards are going down. This from the most respected name in journalism (outside the daily show). If this doesnt move that contract nothing will.

If you’re looking for a good laugh check out Ozzie Guillen’s comments at Baseball Prospectus (this link does not require a subscription). This guy’s act is going to wear thin if they start losing.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Another A-Rod Point of View (with the same conclusion)

So, Torre decides to bat “E”-Rod (22 errors to date, tied for the ML lead… but that’s a different story) in the five hole in yesterday’s first game of a double header. I saw this and took the opportunity to do some analysis of every five hole hitter in the big leagues. Keep in mind I began the data collection once I noticed his hitting slot (game 1) so some of the info comes from games two days ago (blogging doesn’t pay what it seems, so time constraints limit the analysis). Salaries were collected from CBS Sportsline, and some players had missing values (Choo, LaRoche, Luke Scott, Bill Hall) so I inputed the league minimum.

Some quick number crunching says that Arod has batted 16% of his AB’s in the five hole playing 19 games there.

Some interesting Arod info:
Arod makes $25,680,727
Next highest (almost half) is Sexson at $13,000,000
Total 5 hole hitters salaries at $107,766,442
Average 5 hole hitters (with Arod) is $3,592,214
Average 5 hole hitters (with out Arod) is $2,830,541
Arod makes 9.07 times as much as the average 5 hole hitter (with out Arod)
Though Arod consists of about 3% of the 5 hole hitters he makes about 24% of their salaries.

Other observations:

Overpaid is Sexson (see above) and Burrell at $9,750,000
Some best values: Wright ($374,000), and Morneau ($385,000)

This once again reinforces the Moneyball philosophy of not being afraid to play the young guys, and doesn’t even take into consideration Arod’s defense (or lack there of).

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wisdom in a bronze star

Had a little chat with AlanBStard (a lowly bronze star status like myself so I have no inferiority complex when approaching him about a subject). We were in the pit and I asked him what he thought of the Lieberman contract. This was his response:

AlanBStard: Diem: Assuming the Democratic endorsements don't mean anything (and they probably won't) and the DNC is smart enough not to get involved (judging by Dean's statements, it isn't), I think Lieberman takes it and stays in the Democratic caucus.
AlanBStard: Lamont is doing a respectable job of repositioning himself, though.

I have to agree. Short of Lieberman taking one for the team that just stabbed him in the back and exiting the race I think he’s a sure thing. I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, but I do find a sick fascination with following this race (aside from my account balance… which isn’t sick, but a fascination of mine). I cant figure out the Democrats. Ever have the unfortunate task of explaining what a Democrat is to a foreigner? I have on multiple occasions and it doesn’t get any easier. But as far as the contract goes I only see it going toward Lieberman. Lamont spent all his resources just getting to this point, Lieberman knew he was in it till November. If I can figure out how to post this chart on this blog I will, but its trading in the mid 60’s now, only gonna go up.

As for baseball maybe Jake Peavy is the only guy in the world who pitches worse when he can’t see. Maybe he should start pitching like Uggy Urbina. For those of you unfamiliar with the machete yielding middle man’s mechanics (say that ten times) he would stare at third base until he released the ball. I try to imagine what it would be like to be a right hander facing a guy that’s about to throw a mid 90’s fast ball without even looking at his target before he throws it and I crawl up in the fetal position. Apparently that’s what Peavy needs, he should wear one of those blast shields in Star Wars and trust the force every time he takes the mound.The point? There is something wrong with Peavy, and it is not his eyes. But I still stand by my Card’s comments. Play the over in the Red Sox double header, both bull pens are gonna be depleted and someone is gonna be left to take one for the team.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Have a safe trip Caveat

Cav, as you read this in your Starbucks Cafe, we can tell you that we miss you already. But your mission of doing research on the strange poeple of Canada is a noble one, for as the famous P.J. O'Rourke once said, “Very little is known of the Canadian country since it is rarely visited by anyone but the Queen and illiterate sport fishermen.” (no offence to illiterate sport fishermen… why I would be apologizing to an illiterate on a blog I don’t know) Enough about Cav’s travel plans, on to some potential inefficiencies.

It turns out Jake Peavy is legally blind without his contact lenses, which he has been without this year until today. Could there be something here? Then again I remember saying the same thing after reading a Peter Gammons article (hope he is doing better) where he talked about how Peavy had a detached retina in his eye that was fixed right before the season began. Is there value in the SD game? I hope not, I have Cain on my fantasy team (and I need wins... then again who doesnt at this time of year in fantasyland).

The St. Louis Cardinals are having big problems. It blows my mind how the contract to win the division remains so high. Granted the Reds who trail them are only 1 ½ games are not a good team. But the Cards don’t impress me. Take away Carpender and Pujols and they are a bad team. It is scary to think that if the Cards were in the AL they would have the SEVENTH best record (behind the Blue Jays). In fact they would be worse then that since they would have to play stiffer competition. But they are not in the AL, they are in the minor leagues of the major leagues… the NL Central. Bad divisions = uncertainly = high variance. There is no way they should be trading in the 70’s. (I would post the chart and compare it to some of the NL West teams to compare but I am relatively new to this… in due time) I am not saying they are not going to win the division, I am saying that their odds are less then 70% to win it.

Take care all

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Four Days, and a fortnight

For those of you suffering from NFL countdown (like me), check out the PGA Championship this weekend. I'm long a little Mick, Vijay, and Furyk.

I will be off on vacation for 2 weeks. During this time, the blog will be powered Per Diem. And of course, those who are generous with their comments. See you on the other side.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

PPI data kills more bears today

PPI (MoM) 0.1%; Ex-Food & Energy (MoM) -0.3%

I begged, begged you bears to reconsider. SPX futures trading up 9 handles at 8:33am EST.

UPDATE: CPI data also indicates benign inflation (MoM) 0.4%; Ex-Food & Energy (MoM) 0.2%. SPX futures trading up another 6 handles at 8:31am EST. The market is pricing in a 30% chance of one more 25 basis point FOMC hike in 2006. From the WSJ today (subscription required):

WASHINGTON -- Higher energy prices pushed U.S. consumer prices higher in July but underlying inflation came in below expectations, breaking a string of four-straight elevated readings due to a steep slide in clothing prices.

Meanwhile, home construction retreated for the fifth time in six months during July as sliding sales and rising inventories turn builders more conservative.

Coming on the heels of a surprisingly restrained report on July producer prices, the consumer price data should provide some comfort to Federal Reserve officials that inflationary pressures aren't taking a significant hold in the economy, though they remain a risk.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Lieberman 46%, Lamont 41%

Update, here. (via Drudge)

Price for Connecticut Senate Race at

Price for Connecticut Senate Race at

UPDATE: Lieberman apparently "angers" fellow Dems. I weighed in the TS Forums with this last week:
I think that there is a slim chance that Lieberman loses to Lamont. If all the big name Dems make good on their promise to campaign for Lamont, if a few take shots at Lieberman and Lamont lands a few blows himself in the general election, some of the marginal voters could be swayed into projecting a black sheep perspective on Joe.

Bet with your head, not your fantasy team

It was a tough day on the gambling front for me yesterday. Prompted by my emotions of running a close 2nd place in both my fantasy baseball leagues I decided to put my money where my optimism was. With Maddux and Schmidt on the mound (and neither on either of my teams) I took the over for a couple lots. It took them ten innings to get one run in. The other big news of the day is that the Tigers got swept by apparent pitch stealing White Sox (I have the Tigers to win the division).

So why should you care about my fantasy team, or my portfolio? It got me thinking about the different types of bets out there. What is the optimal type of bet? In the SF contract I lost my entire investment. In the Tigers contract I only lost a small portion (if you want to think of it as “lost” considering I bought it at around 20). Assuming we do not like a high variance with our investments (maybe not the best assumption considering we are talking about sports gambling here, but one I still think holds true) then it would appear that the latter has an added positive characteristic to it. Maybe the traders have experience with this type of decision making going on. It’s a dynamic that’s relatively new to the gamblers since we can actually go short on some of these contracts for the first time.

In NFL news, after losing Portis in a run happy Gibbs offense I would have thought the Washington futures would fall. If it is long lasting then they are in trouble.

In closing, always go with the home team that is opening up a new stadium in pre season games. They are the only ones with an incentive to win.

We are shaking the tree

Jacqueline Passey is back in the market, after breaking up with her professional poker playing boyfriend recently. I am not sure whether to add her to Friends of TS, but she had a great debate with Greg Mankiw on how poker playing is not as bad as he thinks. (via Marginal Revolution).

I think she is worthy of some dating investment from TS members, although few of us might actually be worthy or single. Or both. Personally, her expressed desire for a man who is an athiest disqualfies me. And turns me off, even with that disarming smile.

Here is an initial litmus test: if you didn't read through the first link in its entirety, you probably won't be able to get on the basepath, nevermind getting to first base.

P.S. Here is this blog's first post on Mankiw's anti-gambling sentiment. Mankiw was nice enough to explain to us in email that he is not in favor of prohibiting internet gambling; he is just trying to shame people out of doing it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Newbie Scum

I will be blogging on occasion when Caveat Bettor is away doing things more important then… promoting maximizing liquidity into TradeSports (what nobler activity can there be?).

For those of you not familiar with Tradesports I should mention the forum. It in essence allows gamblers to gamble (trading?) like traders, and traders to use their tools to trade on sporting events (gambling?). Alright, lets not get caught up in the semantics; it provides a market similar to the stock market on a variety of events, including sporting events.

What we are left with are two types of people. One is the traders. You can find them in the pit talking about oil prices, Dow Jones fluctuations, and bear vs. bull debates. Then there are the gamblers who shuffle into the pit after the Dow closes, talking about why there is a delay in the lines for the Cub’s home games (wind reports not out yet), the optimal time to trade a division contract (apparently right after the games are done), and the typical Yankees vs. Red Sox debates. I fall into the latter category. So while Caveat Bettor wears three hats (a trader hat, a sports hat, and a promoter of free markets and minimal Government intervention) I am simply a degenerate libertarian gambler.

Enough about me. Thanks to BUCWILD for posting this link in the pit today. I will have a detailed post next week on the ramification of this action, and how BETonSPORTS’ fallout may be an indication of not just future events, but also a signal of inefficiency in current contracts at TradeSports. (And if you think about it, there is no better way to increase liquidity then to talk about inefficency).

Thats it for now, hope I didn't mess anything up.

Honesty, it's such a lonely word

Two of the most honest constructs in my experience: emotions and markets.

Emotions are, of course, personal. Without being led by the intellect and followed up by consistent discipline, unconstrained emotions will lead to certain destruction. Fear will do that. So will greed, as many a TS member who's deposit quickly plummets to $0.00 has proven. But you can't fake an emotion. Joy, anger, peace ... it is what it is when you feel it.

Markets are interpersonal. Not so much relational, they are the transactional potential and realization of agreements over time. And unlike the individualism of emotion, more than one person must agree on a price to make it real, which is why the market mechanism and the price information it yields can be so valuable in informing public policy.

My good friend Chris Masse, the hardworking and pioneering predictive information markets blogger, had his response to the Freakonomics North Korean missile test blog post removed. Steve Levitt is perhaps the leading academic advocate of Tradesports. Here is Masse's censored comment, and here is a brief excerpt:

Thanks for airing this controversy. You’re brave.

I’d like to say to your readers that very few scholars have dared expressing their viewpoint publicly, because scholars need the data coming from TradeSports (and BetFair) to feed their research and publications. They fear retaliation from TradeSports (which has already retaliated against me for airing this dispute).

As you said perfectly, this issue is complex and there’s no clear cut. As I wrote, all opinions are respectable (expire to 0; expire to 100; unwind all trades and void all bets; or pay both sides).
Conflict is inevitable, even between people in whom I hold such high esteem. What strikes me as weird about this particular incident, is how Steve Sailer gets away with so much blood with his comments on the Freakonomics blog, and Masse doesn't get the same consideration. Perhaps Sailer's rants fuel a profitable controversy, while Masse's line of thought is unprofitable for the Freakonomics franchise. Just as Claudia Rosett is certainly not helping the UN with their fundraising. Basically a situation where the profit motives cannot be settled by a market, and people must resort to swords or words.

But before I am able to accuse Levitt of censorship, I'd like to know what his comments policy is. I had one of my comments there removed as well, and that contained 3 links to AEI-Brookings.

UPDATE: Masse's comment is back. So is mine. I am glad I stopped short of accusation. One love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Limited blogging Thursday and Friday

I am away at a conference with business guru Jim Collins, author of Good To Great, and Ashish Nanda, Harvard Business School prof and author of The Risky Business Of Hiring Stars. Oh, and this other "expert", Paul David Hewson.

Will try to post as I am able.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Richard Posner & Gary Becker, on internet gambling

Federal Court Of Appeals Justice Posner says:
Internet gambling establishments have very low expenses, enabling them to offer an approximation to fair odds, and do not require any travel by the gambler. One would think fair odds an enormously attractive feature of Internet gambling to gamblers. At fair odds, which is to say with no loading expense (a gamblers' nirvana that Internet gambling, if allowed to operate without threat of criminal prosecution--which obviously drives up its costs--might approximate), the net utility of gambling soars because there is no longer a net expected financial loss.

Economics Nobel Laureate Becker follows, with:
Governments are concerned about online gambling primarily, I believe, because it threatens the revenue and other political advantages they get from taxing and tightly regulating various forms of gambling.

Supporters of this [gambling prohibition] bill argue that easy access to online gambling is dangerous because it encourages and strengthens gambling addictions. The fact is, however, that gambling is even less addicted than drinking, and is not nearly as addicted as smoking. Moreover, gambling addicts can already find many ways to gamble.

I favor allowing online gambling, given the weak arguments against it, the common human desire to gamble, and also that addictive aspects of gambling are greatly exaggerated. Indeed, I also believe it should remain tax free, along with purchases of other services through the Internet. For tax-free online gambling would put pressure on governments to reduce taxes and various restrictions on lotteries and other forms of gambling. Lower taxes and fewer regulations would give individuals cheaper access to ways to satisfy the mainly harmless desire to play games for money, and to bet on sporting and other events, including lotteries.

I have updated my Friends of Tradesports list, accordingly.

Another note of doubt for Da Bears to heed

Two Bryan Caplan posts in one TS day! Here is the latest.

A quick Pit conversation on legal outlook for TS

edwillers: i see the internet gambling contract is trading around 20; what's the consensus on tradesports legality currently and if that law passes?
caveatBettor: TS legality is a state issue
caveatBettor: states loathe to prosecute citizens [doing their own victimless thing] in their own homes
caveatBettor: TS is bound to return any monies to customers upon request of customer, or by regulatory requirement of US law
caveatBettor: but impulsive deposits via credit card would be eliminated
caveatBettor: only snail mail bank checks

UPDATE: I am not a lawyer. Speak to your own attorney for advice on legal matters.

Steven Leavitt, friend of TS, weighs in on the NK missile controversy

Here. (hat tip to my good friend Drugtest)

I am sooooooo ready for some football

The top volume 2007 Superbowl XLI contracts are: Panthers, Seahawks, and Dolphins.

Price for Super Bowl XLI Winner at

UPDATE: Roger Goodell succeeds Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commish. Rozelle + Tagliabue has been the best one-two punch since ... Thomas Jefferson + James Madison? Which might portend the football equivalent of this?

Letter to predictive information markets experts

Don Luskin posts a letter from TS Member Nicholas Edmunds on the NK missile test contract controversy. This letter is being sent out to predictive information markets experts everywhere.

Today's myth-busting post ... i.e. free the bears

Yesterday, the Federal Open Market Committee decided to pause after raising the Fed Funds rate a record 17 consecutive times, from 1% to 5.25%. But the market sold off a little after the announcement, to the delight of the bears.

Now being a bear can be profitable, 3 months per year and 2 years per decade, on average. We just need to know which months and years. On the other hand, being a perpetual bear is dangerous, given the growth potential (and track record) of the US economy. I've previously posted a warning on how being short $1,000 of the Dow Jones Industrial Avg 90 years ago would result in a loss of an adjusted $2 million today. I post these warnings because some of my good friends are perpetually bearish, and I just hate seeing them losing their money while retaining their stubbornness--I would be happier if they could reverse those. Today's lesson is from a great communicator, Steve Conover:

In short, the knowledge content of the assets we hold abroad has to be yielding a much higher return to us than we pay on foreign-owned assets in the US, in order to explain the fact that we are still earning $30 billion (net) as we were in 1980. In other words, our assets abroad must be worth a lot more than the books would indicate, because there aren't many other ways to explain why we are earning (net) $30 billion today on foreign direct investment, instead of paying out (net) $210 billion that the books would suggest should be the case. For a good illustration of that key point, read the Euro Disney example in the paper.

We're running a trade surplus? Hmm, how long do you think it will take the mainstream media to catch on to that new point of view? (My guess: Not until after the next presidential election. If ever.)

Read the whole thing. If you have a few minutes, check out the site; he's also got great instructional graphics on scary things like debt and deficit; hopefully, the truth will set the systemic bears free, and they can hibernate with peace in their hearts.

UPDATE: Another nice take from Bryan Caplan, here, who says "The upshot: The dollar is not going to collapse. In fact, it looks like we should expect the dollar to slightly appreciate. As Neo says, "Woh." If only Warren Buffett and Bill Gates had read that Harvard paper last year, they would have more billions to help the poor now. And George Soros could have gotten some more Ned Lamonts prepositioned.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Epic Milestone: we get a guest blogger

My good friend Diem is now activated for posting. He will be blogging occasionally while I am out later in August, and he might end up staying on well after that.

Which graph looks more recessionary?

asks Irwin Chusid (via Don Luskin).

Monday, August 07, 2006

North Korea Contract Update: Department of Defense won't comment, defers to the White House

The controversy concerning the missile test contract remains unresolved in the minds of prediction markets experts (like Chris Masse and Jason Ruspini) as well as many TS customers. Chris Masse has provided a screen shot of a DoD discussion thread (second graphic), where the DoD states:

We will let the White House comments speak for us.

The White House press briefing can be found here, and Stephen Hadley (national security advisor, for the president) says:

It's probably -- it's a short-range ballistic missile. These went out about 275 miles, something like that.

I now must agree with the experts and customers, that expiring the contract at 0.0 is worse than expiring it at 100.0 or unwinding all the trades. The briefing was conducted on the July 4, and the DoD referral on its website is dated July 7.

(Note: I did not trade this contract, nor did I make any recommendations to others)

UPDATE: Corrected Hadley's title from "NSA advisor". Hat tip to my good friend drugtest. Please see his comments on this post.

UPDATE: Welcome, Freakonomics readers. Friends of Tradesports short list, with you-know-who, here. More on the North Korean controversy here and here, covering things over the last month. While I am not a tenth the genius of Levitt + Dubner, I was able to first report on this contoversy a month ago.

Business Week posts CEO Guide to Prediction Markets

Here. Imagine Congress outlawing a mechanism that could improve productivity and create more jobs. Now why would they want any of us to be less dependent on the government ... yeah, go ahead, make it all illegal ... (via Marginal Revolution)

Another recent post of mine on the win-win of prediction markets. An older post, criticizing the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.

Bears get a break

From today's WSJ (subscription required)

Stocks are expected to slide at the open Monday amid a spike in oil prices after BP said it will shut down a major Alaskan oil field.

BP said it will shutter its Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, taking crude oil off the market in a time of tight supplies and rising demand, following the discovery of a corroded pipeline and small leak there. The shutdown by the London energy titan, disclosed last night and expected to occur over several days, will result in curtailment of an estimated 400,000 barrels a day of oil, almost half the total daily production from fields on Alaska's North Slope.

Crude-oil prices jumped $1.53 to $76.29 a barrel in early trading Monday on the news.

UPDATE: The Oracle of Omaha stops out of most of his USD short. (via Wall Street Folly)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Why is the Pit so quiet?

caveatBettor: Why is the Pit so quiet?
a) bulls spending their winnings on destination vacations, with limited internet access
b) bears too depressed to chat
c) calm before NFL starts up
d) all of the above

Silentconqueror: d)


BUCWILD: E) bitter nk people F) people tired of the provocateurs G) internet gambling concerns

(Note of clarification: I believe the correct application of "bitter nk people" is meant not for the North Korean people, but for the TS customers who bought the missile test contracts).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

For all you bears ... another warning you should heed

Rather than ride your shorts into oblivion. Even a bear can understand this explanation. Or go the way of the dinsoaur.

Even earlier warning for you, posted back here. But hey, it's your money. I can't help how easily it parts from you.

UPDATE: I begged, begged youse beeahs ...

UPDATE: Another timely, rational point, against the URSAhysterics, simple for someone with some high school to comprehend. I bet USA Today also hires journalism graduates (who tend to underemphasize stuff like economics, law, math, science and technology courses--if ain't liberal or arts, it's useless to such students).

Price for Weekly DJIA Close. Jul 31 - Aug 04 at

LaMont Lieberman contracts

Ned's making his move. Some of his associates' moves are worth questioning.

Price for Connecticut Democratic primary for Senate 2006 at

Price for Connecticut Democratic primary for Senate 2006 at

Contracts on Castro ... but not at my favorite place to trade them

Story here. (via RawStory).

My good progressive friend sellSELLsell and my crazy commenter BCLI should both feel some vindication right now.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Baseball trade opportunities ... lost forever

Guy Kawasaki linked to this Malcolm Gladwell review of the Wages Of Wins. I haven't been following the NBA since Len Bias and Reggie Lewis left the scene, but it occurred to me that this was relevant to all the MLB trade chatter in the Pit.

I've been busy with work, so haven't had much chance to join the banter, but I did briefly debate with fellow chatters about the Red Sox giving up Jon Lester for Andruw Jones. A friend mentioned that it might have been a 3-way with Roy Oswalt involved. Anyhoo, my point on the Lester-Jones trade was that Lester is making about 1% of Andruw Jones' $14 million, and he has the upside to throw for the Bosox for another several years. The counterpoint was that if the Red Sox could win the World Series this year, it would be well worth it.

I'm not sure that one can throw away that huge financial and early career upside for a fleeting "if". Let me know if you agree, disagree, or what your GM move would have been before this deadline.

Landis, testosterone testing, maybe losing his title ... is there a contract somewhere in here?

I think so, especially if we don't need to depend on the Department of Redunancy Department for confirmation. I just emailed TS with a suggestion.

Derek Lowe (not the baseball pitcher) has some interesting scientific perspective here.

UPDATE: More about bicycling prohibitions being a generally bad thing, from Jacob Sullum at Reason. (via Everyday Economist). I wish Congress could understand it's also true about online trading of futures.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

TS decides to expire North Korea missile contracts at Zero

Even though missiles left North Korean airspace, TS has decided to expire the contract at 0. Most customers and prediction market experts thought that it would be better to unwind the contracts or to expire them at 100. (Personally, I think TS should have expired them at 50.0, but that might have gotten more people more upset).

It's a big black eye on the stated goals of this blog.

More to follow.

UPDATE: Masse's recent post today concludes:
The public record suggests that TradeSports should grade the bet as a winner. If TradeSports go by the intent of the contract, then the bet is a winner. If TradeSports go by the letter of the contract, then its staff should get confirmation that the missiles didn't leave North Korea's airspace, which the US DOD will never say, of course. Thus, in both cases, the bet is a winner. However, if paying the "yes" speculators at this late time is problematic, then another solution is to unwind all trades and void all bets. In any case, TradeSports should work on better criteria for wording bets. In conclusion, this is a difficult situation, but expiring this North Korean Missile prediction market at 0 is not the right way to go.

CORRECTION: My source of the above quote was from Masse. He originated it from Sports Book Review.