Saturday, July 21, 2012

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text courtesy Wikipedia
Prediction markets (also known as predictive markets, information markets, decision markets, idea futures, event derivatives, or virtual markets) are speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. The current market prices can then be interpreted as predictions of the probability of the event or the expected value of the parameter. For example, a prediction market security might reward a dollar if a particular candidate is elected, such that an individual who thinks the candidate had a 70% chance of being elected should be willing to pay up to 70 cents for such a security.
People who buy low and sell high are rewarded for improving the market prediction, while those who buy high and sell low are punished for degrading the market prediction. Evidence so far suggests that prediction markets are at least as accurate as other institutions predicting the same events with a similar pool of participants
Prediction markets suffer from the same types of inaccuracy as other kinds of market, i.e. liquidity or other factors not intended to be measured are taken into account as risk factors by the market participants, distorting the market probabilities. Prediction markets may also be subject to speculative bubbles. For example, in the year 2000 IEM presidential futures markets, seeming "inaccuracy" comes from buying that occurred on or after Election Day, 11/7/00, but, by then, the trend was clear.
There can also be direct attempts to manipulate such markets. In the Tradesports 2004 presidential markets there was an apparent manipulation effort. An anonymous trader sold short so many Bush 2004 presidential futures contracts that the price was driven to zero, implying a zero percent chance that Bush would win. The only rational purpose of such a trade would be an attempt to manipulate the market in a strategy called a "bear raid". If this was a deliberate manipulation effort it failed, however, as the price of the contract rebounded rapidly to its previous level. As more press attention is paid to prediction markets, it is likely that more groups will be motivated to manipulate them. However, in practice, such attempts at manipulation have always proven to be very short lived. In their paper entitled "Information Aggregation and Manipulation in an Experimental Market" (2005),[12] Hanson, Oprea and Porter (George Mason U), show how attempts at market manipulation can in fact end up increasing the accuracy of the market because they provide that much more profit incentive to bet against the manipulator.
Using real-money prediction market contracts as a form of insurance can also affect the price of the contract. For example, if the election of a leader is perceived as negatively impacting the economy, traders may buy shares of that leader being elected, as a hedge.[13]
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