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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Intrade for 2012 elections (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Intrade for 2012 elections
Destineer
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So I've decided to finally fund my Intrade account and give this a try. Is anyone else giving this a try this year? I seem to remember Samprimary being fairly serious about it.

So far I'm getting my feet wet with some sure-thing bets... shorted 47 shares of "Herman Cain will not take second in New Hampshire" for 1c each. [Razz] New Hampshire actually doesn't look too interesting, since Romney is such an enormous favorite. Hopefully there will be more good buys if things tighten up a bit, or at least once S Carolina rolls around.

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Samprimary
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I haven't done much in the way of intrade betting this primary because it's been such a completely clownshoes political event.

Still, in a world where you still absolutely have things like a core of fanatics who are absolutely certain that Ron Paul would dominate Barack Obama in the presidential election, there exists plenty to profit off of.

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Destineer
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The prices for Ron Paul seem surprisingly sane right now.

It seems like the current fee structure (flat monthly fee) incentivizes short-term bets that get your money back in circulation quickly. (Of course this incentive is already present in terms of the opportunity cost of leaving money in a particular bundle of shares for a long time.) That's one good thing about the primaries: they happen in quick succession, so you can resolve a bet almost every week and get on to the next one.

Trying to decide whether to bet against Santorum for second place. Seems like a good deal at ~$1.70, but I'd like to see a new poll from after the Iowa results came in before committing money.

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Samprimary
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If I had more balls, I'd put some money behind how I've consistently said "I don't know how anyone but Romney is supposed to win this primary" but the statement is pretty literal in the sense that the primary is so wacky that I can't say that they're not stupid enough to do it; desperation to defeat Obama before he turns america into socialist fascist white-guilt atheist muslim born-in-kenya tyrrany (or whatever) apparently isn't enough to preclude primary voters — desperate for a candidate they can like more than Romney — advancing hopeless non-starters like gingrich, santorum, or paul over romney in a spat of whatever's motivating them.

Not to mention that the races are close enough now that you have notable potential effect from what could easily be referred to as primary saboteurs, styled after Operation Chaos.

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Geraine
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Intrade looks extremely interesting, but I'm not quite sure how it works. Do they have a "How to" guide on their site? There are a few bets I'd like to place but I'm not exactly sure how it works.
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Destineer
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
If I had more balls, I'd put some money behind how I've consistently said "I don't know how anyone but Romney is supposed to win this primary" but the statement is pretty literal in the sense that the primary is so wacky that I can't say that they're not stupid enough to do it;

Yeah, besides which I haven't yet seen the price for a bet on Romney fall below the probability of his winning from 538. It certainly takes more balls than I've got to second-guess Nate Silver.

Geraine:

https://www.intrade.com/v4/misc/howItWorks/theBasics.jsp

One thing that's not obvious from this is how the prices of available shares are set. They actually are set by other traders: you can offer to buy or sell shares at a higher/lower price than the existing offers and see if anyone accepts.

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Destineer
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One of the best sure-thing bets I see right now is a short sale on "Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee in 2012" for 30c. Very good expected value on that one, since the odds of her running are minute. But I'm hesitant to put a lot in, because it doesn't really resolve until the DNC in 8 months and 3% interest over that period isn't so great.
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Destineer
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Wow, putting up shares for sale is awesome. I listed some shares of "Hillary Clinton will be the Dem nominee" at 50c, and some moron bought six of them! Ha!
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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Wow, putting up shares for sale is awesome. I listed some shares of "Hillary Clinton will be the Dem nominee" at 50c, and some moron bought six of them! Ha!

Awesome until Obama is assassinated, Biden is pressured to only serve out the rest of his term, and Hillary Clinton steps in to pick up the pieces.
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Destineer
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That really is about the only way she could end up getting nominated.

I guess somebody thinks there's a 5% chance BHO will be dead by September.

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BlackBlade
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Well alternately, Obama, Biden, Boehner, and Daniel Inouye could all be running a racket where they scam old ladies out of their social security cheques. They all resign in the ensuing scandal and Mrs. Clinton fills out the rest of the term and runs for reelection.
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Destineer
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All right, FINALLY the price of Romney shares is below the chance of his winning from 538. I'm buying!
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Samprimary
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By now it's pretty clear to people who understand the psychic voodoo magic of "polls" that there is no way that Romney is going to lose the primary. It's so clear that you can bet on it as though it were a sure thing.

ABUSE THAT NOW.

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Destineer
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Yeah, I went all in, long on Romney and short on Huntsman, as of last night. The only thing that looked a little risky this morning was an old bet from a few days back when I shorted Huntsman taking second. But that seems to have worked out OK, too.

So, no losses and a bit better than 3% returns overall.

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Destineer
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If 538 is to be believed, a pretty good bet right now would be to go short on "Mitt Romney to win the first five Republican primaries."

The short price is $7.38/share right now, so 73.8% returns on a win.

Romneys odds in SC are 55% now and in Florida, 82%. No prediction on the Nevada caucus, but if these numbers are right, the odds of him winning the three remaining primaries are less than

0.55*0.82=0.451

So the odds of a win are at least 55%. The expected value of a $7.38 short share (costing $2.62) would be at least 0.55*($10 payoff from win)- $2.62 cost of share

= $2.88.

Might be worth waiting a couple days to see how big a bounce he gets from this win, and going short on this one if the SC and FL numbers don't change.

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Destineer
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Interesting how Intrade's own probabilities come out inconsistent on this same issue. His odds of winning all three according to the most recent sales are:

0.948(Nevada)*0.794(S Carolina)*0.895(Florida)

= 67.4%

while his odds of "winning the first five" are 72.5%.

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SenojRetep
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Yeah, you can frequently see that the percentages don't add up, even in heavily traded markets. Across markets, particularly with low trade volume, there are often inconsistencies. Sometimes there are arbitrage opportunities, even with the bid/ask spread.

That said, your calculation of the odds of winning NV and SC and FL makes an independence assumption. If his chances of winning a combination of states are correlated (which it seems likely they are) then knowing what that correlation is would be important in correctly calculating the true probability.

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Destineer
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Right, good point. The numbers are compatible with the possibility that the chance of his winning FL and NV conditional on winning SC is 100%. In that case, the Intrade probability for "winning all three" would actually be 7% too low.

Thanks for the sanity check! [Embarrassed]

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Destineer
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"Palin, Trump, Bloomberg, Paul OR Bachmann to run for President as Independent or 3rd party candidate"

Did I miss some reason this isn't exceedingly unlikely? Right now it's at 23%!

ETA: Thinking about this one, it really underscores the possibility for insider trading on Intrade. If you knew Bloomberg and he told you he was going to announce, you could buy a lot of semi-cheap shares and make a shit-ton of money.

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SenojRetep
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Trump did change his registration from R to Independent in November. And America Elects has been pressing Bloomberg. The others I think are pretty unlikely.

Overall, I'd probably short that bet, but it's not infrequent historically for jilted and/or egomaniacal politicians to run quixotic third-party campaigns (as Gary Johnson is currently demonstrating). Of course, that reasoning is probably prone to overestimate the odds, given the narrowness of the group in the contract (just five people, none of them named "Nader").

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Destineer
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Bloomberg seems really unlikely to me, too. He's been pushed to run before, and chosen not to, even when there was no incumbent in '08. Trump can be unpredictable, but the fact that he didn't even give the Republican primaries a try indicates to me that he has no interest in an actual campaign. But he's probably the most likely of the five, because he's the craziest.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
"Palin, Trump, Bloomberg, Paul OR Bachmann to run for President as Independent or 3rd party candidate"

Did I miss some reason this isn't exceedingly unlikely? Right now it's at 23%!

This is a perfect example of the kind of thing I don't touch because odds are good enough one of them is gobfrackingly crazy and/or attention-whorish enough to do exactly that.
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Destineer
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I certainly wouldn't put a lot into it. I sold ten shares.
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Destineer
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Holy crap.

Just sold a bunch of Romney at $7.08 and bought an even bigger bunch of Gingrich at $2.45.

If the prices change as one would expect them to over the course of the day, I'll probably cash in about half of these shares before bed.

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Destineer
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So this big purchase did not work out very well at all.

I really should have followed through on my promise to cash in Thursday night. Would've made about 30c a share. Instead I thought, well, the price of Gingrich is still pretty far below the probability form 538, so I'll hold out a while and see what happens.

Big mistake. People are really overestimating Romney on Intrade (or else Silver is underestimating him). I've never seen his price on Intrade come within $1 of the price you'd expect from the 538 prediction. And of course Newt's been losing ground at the polls as well.

I managed a bit of damage control on Friday, selling about half my Newt shares for the amount I paid for them. Now I'm waiting to see if things improve. If not, this could easily wipe out my winnings from New Hampshire, plus another hundred bucks or more.

There's a lesson here, for sure. Probably it's that holding shares of an underdog candidate in a primary is a riskier game than I'm interested in playing.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
"Palin, Trump, Bloomberg, Paul OR Bachmann to run for President as Independent or 3rd party candidate"

Did I miss some reason this isn't exceedingly unlikely? Right now it's at 23%!

This is a perfect example of the kind of thing I don't touch because odds are good enough one of them is gobfrackingly crazy and/or attention-whorish enough to do exactly that.
When pressed on it in interviews Paul has also been coy on this subject, and he's absolutely crazy enough to do it.

I think not touching this was a good idea.

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Samprimary
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I've touched on my first non-intrade bet of the year, and it was betting that the patriots would wallop tebow so hard that even the lord almighty's will could not best tom brady, it was a success, I get $40 and a six pack of pabst blue ribbon

hey uh anyone here drink pbr

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Destineer
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Best near-sure-thing deal on there right now: Romney to win the nomination, + Santorum to win. You can buy both together for a bit less than $9.10. If you want to be really certain and only make 7%, throw in Newt at $0.20.
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Destineer
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Who are these weirdos buying Jeb Bush? Even if there were a to be nominee from outside the field, chosen over a pretty clear front-runner in Romney, Bush would be the last person to pick, give how besmirched the Bush brand name is.
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Samprimary
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While I have found it profitably amusing that santorum has sown enough uninformed uncertainty in the race to make my romney bet pay off crazy hard, it's time for the charade to end. It's time for me to win, as I always do.
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Destineer
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Still, I think Santorum is not a bad investment right now. There are some states coming up that he's likely to win, and it remains the case that if Newt were to stop stroking his ego and drop out, Santorum shares would skyrocket.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Who are these weirdos buying Jeb Bush? Even if there were a to be nominee from outside the field, chosen over a pretty clear front-runner in Romney, Bush would be the last person to pick, give how besmirched the Bush brand name is.

Eh, his was one of the names bounced around by certain pundits when they were fantasizing about a brokered convention (his name came up less often than Palin, Ryan, and Christie, but it came up.)

Presumably the folks buying his shares are clinging to that fantasy? Republicans are largely morose and dispirited about their field, so the brokered convention dream is very enticing to them.

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Destineer
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Very glad I bought Santorum and Romney in equal measures over the weekend. The Santo shares have about doubled in value since I bought them.

Tough decision, whether to hold them or sell at least some of them off while they're hot. Guess it comes down to whether Santorum realistically has any sort of shot at the nom. At least I should wait a bit to see whether Gingrich drops. That could still potentially be huge.

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BlackBlade
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As long as Gingrich stays in, he's mostly going to pull from Santorum, and if the delegate counts continue, I don't know how on earth Santorum can deliver on his promise he made last night to secure the nomination before convention.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
While I have found it profitably amusing that santorum has sown enough uninformed uncertainty in the race to make my romney bet pay off crazy hard, it's time for the charade to end. It's time for me to win, as I always do.

TIME PASSES

cut to

EXTERIOR

SAM is standing on a rooftop, hands in his blazer. Wind is blowing in his hair. Below him is the still-flaming wreckage of the Santorum campaign, atop earlier strata of now unrecognizable wrecked husks. His ego has obviously been stoked to incomprehensibly dangerous levels. He pulls out a pair of WICKED SWEET SHADES and puts them on in a smooth combination CSI MIAMI / DEAL WITH IT maneuver.

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BlackBlade
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I only wish I had had money to bet back when people were taking him seriously.
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Samprimary
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My next big awesome plan was to find brokerage firms that would let me set up an account for buying into IPO's. That plan went out the window with a new job and a thousand documents to sign and cheery descriptions about what happens when the thought-monitoring implant in my brain even senses me think about something that would now be insider trading and
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Destineer
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Ah, memories.

quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
Very glad I bought Santorum and Romney in equal measures over the weekend. The Santo shares have about doubled in value since I bought them.

Tough decision, whether to hold them or sell at least some of them off while they're hot. Guess it comes down to whether Santorum realistically has any sort of shot at the nom. At least I should wait a bit to see whether Gingrich drops. That could still potentially be huge.

If only I'd sold them! That price (I think about 70c) was the highest he ever got.
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Samprimary
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General election time. Obama at about 60% and Romney fluctuating in the 30's — that number might rise soon and become overvalued as the public gets deluged with news about how 'oh look the polls show them evenly matched!' but don't expect romney overvaluation to last long once they start posting EC maps and aggregate poll data
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Destineer
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Really? Even McCain was above 50% for a pretty long period in '08, after the convention, right? Am I remembering wrong?
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Destineer
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If you want to pick up some Romney shares, they are dirt cheap at $9.50 right now, for some reason. I think some Ron Paul psycho must've hit the market with a lot of money, because Paul is also up above 25c.
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Samprimary
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Friend is shortin' on romney based entirely on that story coming out about how romney pinned that gay lookin' kid down at school and forcefully cut his hair off, but I dunno.
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TomDavidson
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If Romney can be successfully cast as a privileged bully, he'll lose the election. But I don't think that'll stick.
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Samprimary
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exactly why I am not hopping in on this bandwagon. Though this is exactly the catalyst that you could hypothetically use to move the casting of him in that direction.
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SenojRetep
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There's an honest to goodness (weak) InTrade arbitrage right now. You can sell shares of "Other" in the Presidential Winner (Party) market for $0.05/share. You can buy shares of "Other" in the President+Congress combination market (which is a superset of the "Other" category from the Presidential Winner (Party) market) for $0.05/share.

Therefore, you could sell "Other" in the presidential winner market at $0.05/share, buy "Other" in the combo market at the same price and have a guarantee of no loss with possible gain (in the case that the Presidential winner is from a major party but either the House or Senate is not controlled by a party. This might happen if, for instance, Angus King wins in Maine but chooses not to caucus with either party).

More generally, the cross-linkages between the "Presidential Winner", "Senate Control", "House Control" and "President + Congress Combo" Markets seem somewhat messed up. Looking at the reported percentages, rather than the prices, the probability of Democratic House control is 23.2%, but if you add up all the combinations in which Democrats control the House in the combo market you get 9.5+3.0+0.6+0.3 = 12.4%. That's a big difference!

<edit>In fact, there's a more significant arbitrage there than the one I outlined before. You could sell DemHouse control for $2.32, buy the four combo contracts at $1.50+$0.30+$0.05+$0.05 = $1.90, and pocket $0.42/share. To be careful, you would also have to buy "other" in the combo market at $0.05/share, but unless I'm reading the rules wrong that would completely cover the cases, leaving you with a guaranteed 4% return on investment. And in the long-shot scenario where neither party controls the House (due to Independents getting elected) but the Democrates effectively control the House because a sufficient number of Independents caucus with them, you'd have a much higher return.</edit>

[ June 04, 2012, 03:54 PM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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SenojRetep
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Destineer or Samp (or someone else with an active InTrade account) will you please go execute that arbitrage? I recognize it's only a few bucks, but the persistent existence of it is an affront to my efficient market sensibilities. I've been tracking it daily for the last ten days and it's actually increased instead of decreasing. Now for $2.10 you can sell Democratic control shares in the House control market, buy the equivalent* shares in the combo market for $1.51 and pocket a guaranteed, risk-free $0.59/share.

Or, alternatively, could someone explain what I'm missing that makes this not an arbitrage?

*Actually, the shares aren't exactly equivalent; the payoff events in the combo market are a superset of those in the Congress control market, since they're based on the size of the caucus (which might include independents) rather than the party of record (which would exclude independents). So in the unlikely event that neither Democrats nor Republicans have an election day majority in the House, but the Democratic caucus attracts enough independents to form a majority, you'd get a payoff from the shares you buy in the combo, but not have to payout on the shares you sell in the Congress control market, meaning your potential rate of return is much higher than the guaranteed 6%. The converse is not true; in any situation in which you'd have to payout for the shares you sold in the House control market, at least one of the contracts you bought in the combo market would pay out (which is what makes it a risk-free investment).

[ June 14, 2012, 11:21 AM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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Destineer
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It's hard to get that excited about a guaranteed 6% on Election Day when one can still buy Obama To Be Democratic Nominee at around 97c, make 3% by the Democratic convention in September and then have all that money free again for another round of bets on the actual elections. I suspect that's why no one has exploited the arbitrage yet.

But still, 6% isn't bad at all as a guaranteed return over 5 months. I will buy what's available at that rate. Thanks, Senoj.

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Destineer
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There were really only six shares to sell at $2.10, then the rate dropped quite a bit.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Destineer:
There were really only six shares to sell at $2.10, then the rate dropped quite a bit.

Yeah, I saw that. Did you buy the shares in the combo market as well? I wasn't really trying just to tell you to short the Dems in the House control market (I don't have a strong opinion on whether $2.10 is a good price or not). My point was that by buying an equivalent number of shares of the five applicable contracts in the combo market you can guarantee coverage of any loss. This is a bit different than the 3% likely return on the Obama contract in the Dem Nomination market (which could be upended by a Black Swan event like Obama's untimely death), in that it's logically guaranteed, not just extremely likely.
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Destineer
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Yes, I bought 6 shares each of Dem Control of House + all other combinations. It ended up being about $1.60 a share for those.

I believe if Obama were to die, the market would be locked and settled at the existing price using this rule:

quote:
In the event of the death of one of the candidates the following steps may be taken at the discretion of Intrade:

1. All markets will be paused and settled at the last closing price set for each market
2. A new market will be listed for the remaining candidates

But you're right that there are Black Swans possible.
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