They Don't Miss A Trick

by tristero

Nate Silver's noticed something weird going on with election betting:
There's something funny going on over at Intrade with respect to the pricing of the Obama and McCain contracts.

Right now, Obama is trading at 52.3 points. That is, Intrade implies that he has a 52.3 percent chance to become the next President.

Now, I happen to think that is a patently absurd price. But you don't have to take my word for it. Over at BetFair, another large UK-based gambling and futures site, you can also buy an Obama contract. But the price there is 1.62, which implies a 61.7 percent chance that Obama will become the next President.

That is a huge spread, 51.5 points versus 61.7 points. ..

It does seem to be Intrade specifically that's out of line, rather than Betfair. At Iowa Electronic Markets, yet another political futures exchange, the probability of the Democrats winning the popular vote is about 61 percent...

It's pretty obvious that this is not some sort of random walk. Rather, every so often, some individual trader or some small group of traders are shorting all the Obama contacts in bulk and resetting the entire market. The markets then organically climb back upward until the rogue trader strikes again six or eight hours later. The volumes on these contracts have been very high for the past week as a result.

Most likely, this is just some idiot degenerate gambler who is trying to have some fun. Between the Obama and McCain contracts, there appears to be about $400,000 in contracts changing hands every day, which is a lot by Main Street standards, but minuscule by either Vegas or Wall Street Standards.

What's a little weird, however, is that this rouge trader is not only selling Obama contracts and buying McCain contracts .... they also seem to be buying Hillary Clinton contracts[.]

This is the exact mirror image of the Obama trading -- in fact, the trades seem to be occurring at exactly the same times. So someone is betting on some sort of disqualifying event happening to Obama.

I don't think this is any cause for alarm... if Joe Biden contracts were being bought up as part of this scheme, that might be more concerning, but they aren't. Still, if I were the Secret Service FBI (**), I would probably want to know the identity of this trader.
Two criticisms. First of all, I don't think this is the work of someone having a little bit of demented fun; this has all the hallmarks of a classic Republican ratfuck. Second, in his link, Nate picked the wrong idiot degenerate gambler to use as an example.