A new online prediction market is offering a $100 prize to a site user who most acccurately predicts when the president and Congress will reopen the federal government. The American Civics Exchange is an Internet-only futures market founded by two investment professionals who want to offer futures trading (for the uninitiated, basically gambling on upcoming events) to government policy. Until the market receives approval from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, users can only make transactions with play money. But American Civics Exchange will give $100 to the trader with the best guess.
Founders Flip Pidot and Paul Lang told industry publication Nextgov, “Even though there’s no actual financial exposure for the traders, we’re hoping having some tangible, real money incentive will push them to play well and trade rationally. It’s our hope, and our thesis, that this will yield more accurate prices in terms of predictive capacity.”
Guests to the site can predict futures on government policy and major geopolitical events such as Greece leaving the Eurozone. This isn’t the first time entrepreneurs or government officials attempted to create a futures market for wonks. Several years ago, defense think tank DARPA began lobbying for a futures market on terrorist attacks. The idea was shut down because of Congressional opposition, mainly centered around the idea that militant organizations could make cash profits by anonymously betting that their own attacks would succeed.