Flu Betting

Intrade has opened several prediction market on Swine flu in the US. A chart of the current prices appears below (it was 35 at the time of posting, indicating that the market believes there is a 35% chance that more than 10,000 cases will be confirmed in the US by mid-year.

10,000 or more cases of A/H1N1 Swine Flu to be confirmed in the US before 30 Jun 2009

I’m not aware of any such markets that presently exist in Australia, but they would be extremely valuable for policy purposes.

While we’re on the subject, it would also be useful to have prediction markets on mid-2010 Australian unemployment. Justin Wolfers and I advocated this in 2007, but the policy need is much greater today.

2 thoughts on “Flu Betting”

  1. I know that markets can outperform polls and experts for certain types of outcomes – those where there is a large amount of free flowing information that needs to be condensed, judged and weighed by independent actors. Presidential elections are the best known and most cited example.

    I am less convinced that the markets can best judge the trajectory of an epidemic, or the chance that the Higgs boson will spontaneously appear in the next CERN experiment. The “market” is just a bunch of people and if they know jack shit, the equilibriating average is still…

    Unemployment is somewhere in the middle. Your average TabCorp Sportsbetter does not know that much about the economy and will base her bets on the latest Herald headline.

    I prefer the experts such as our own Mark Crosby who, two months ago, was one of the first to predict unemployment over 8%. It now looks like he should have had another shiraz that night and told us what he really thought.


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