Posts filed under “Politics”

Political Futures Markets? Bah, humbug

I keep hearing a lot of jabber about the Politcal Futures markets like and Iowa Political Futures, and how significant the political action is relative to the equities markets.

This is utter nonsense.

Lets compare these exchanges with the U.S. Capital markets, which are, in a word, massive. Total market capitalization for equities are ~$13 trillion dollars; for Federal debt (Bonds and notes) its about $4 trillion; while corporate bonds total in excess of $5 trillion.

The total dollar amount invested is the political futures? An absolute pittance.

Let’s start with They state they are the largest political futures exchange in the world. Their biggest contract – The George W. Bush Futures — has about two million dollars invested. Over the past year, these futures have traded a grand total of six million dollars. The Iowa Political Futures market is downright tiny in comparison. Over the summer, they had less than $20,000 invested in their “winner take all” exchange.

Let’s put this in even simpler terms: eBay trades 10 million shares a day, and is priced at $91. It takes eBay less than 3 minutes to trade the entire years worth of Intrade presidential futures value. General Electric, at 15 million shares / $33, requires about 6 minutes. Microsoft takes one and half minutes.

And yesterday, when Merck got clocked, it traded the entire years worth of Presidential contracts in 25 seconds.

What does all this mean? Like it says in the fine print, this is good for “entertainment purposes” only. The dinky futures trading outfits are too small to reach even the level of unreliability as forecasters that the major capital markets are.

There is no alchemy: Pooling our collective ignorance does not somehow yield wisdom.

Category: Politics

Confessions of Repentant Hawk

Category: Politics

The Bush vs. Kerry Ratio

Category: Politics

Fight for Senate Has Tightened

Category: Politics

Where are all the Political Cheerleaders today?

Category: Politics

Projected Electoral College Vote: Swing States, 9/20/04

Category: Politics

WSJ: Ignore the Polls?

Category: Politics

Tracking Job Exporters

Category: Finance, Politics

Bush’s Lead Narrowing In Post-Convention Polls

Category: Politics

Post 9/11′s Hobson’s Choice


I normally do not address anything 9/11 related on this day. I said my piece on it the day after, and prefer to leave it at that.

However, something I read yesterday struck a chord with me. The notoriously right wing Op-Ed pages of the WSJ has one of the most intriguing commentaries on this political race I have ever read. It is by Mark Helprin, a contributing editor at Wall Street Journal.

I approach anything on that page with a presumption that it will be coming from the far right wing of the political spectrum. That, in and of itself, does not make it wrong. Many of history’s most respected and intellectually rigorous thinkers were conservatives. Do not allow the present crew of charlatans and prevaricators to bias you against intelligent rhetoric, regardless of origin.

My own viewpoint tends towards the pragmatic. I prefer not to think in terms of left or right, but rather in the language of execution: competance versus incompetance, intelligent versus foolish. This leads me to hold some rather unusual viewpoints: I would much rather see a policy whose goals I disagree with — excepting extremes — executed competently, than have something I am in favor of hamhandedly mismanaged. Poor execution of a favorable goal actually does far far more damage than the crisp, well-executed policies I may be against, be they smartly done.

One need think no further than Iraq to understand this concept.

Which leads me to Helprin’s editorial: Competance is the key theme underlying his worldview. He writes of how unprepared we were for 9/11, despite the myriad warnings ignored by 4 Presidents. Even worse, three years after 9/11, he is essentially dumfounded that we have done nothing — or worse — to prepare for the next assault, all but guaranteed to be coming our way.

Finally, he finds the incompetance demonstrated by the present Commander-in-Chief — “in appearance a denizen of the Pleistocene, who recites slogans that he believes but does not understand” — to be frightening. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, he remains astounded that the challenger cannot articulate a message of our horrific vulnerbility in terms that are clear and persuasive. Given the current adminisitration’s failure to take the appropriate steps to protect this nation, it is simply dumfounding that his opponent is so mute.

An incendiary excerpt — none too flatterring to either candidate — is below:

“Our strategy has been deeply inadequate especially in light of the fact that we have refused to build up our forces even as our aims have expanded to the point of absurdity. We might have based in northern Saudi Arabia within easy range of the key regimes that succor terrorism, free to coerce their cooperation by putting their survival in question. Our remounted infantry would have been refreshed, reinforced, properly supported, unaffected by insurgency, and ready to strike. The paradigm would have shifted from conquer, occupy, fail, and withdraw — to strike, return, and re-energize. At the same time, we would not have solicited challenges, as we do now, from anyone who sees that although we may be occupying Iraq, Iraq is also occupying us.

We have abstained from mounting an effective civil defense. Only a fraction of a fraction of our wealth would be required to control the borders of and entry to our sovereign territory, and not that much more to discover, produce, and stockpile effective immunizations, antidotes, and treatments in regard to biological and chemical warfare. Thirty years ago the entire country had been immunized against smallpox. Now, no one is, and the attempt to cover a minuscule part of the population failed miserably and was abandoned. Not only does this state of affairs leave us vulnerable to a smallpox epidemic, it stimulates the terrorists to bring one about. So with civil aviation, which, despite the wreckage and tragedy of September 11, is protected in an inefficient, irresponsible, and desultory fashion.

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Category: Politics