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Intrade didn’t predict this

Tuesday, 12 March, 2013

“With sincere regret we must inform you that due to circumstances recently discovered we must immediately cease trading activity on www.intrade.com.” So says the grim sentence that greets visitors to the website of the celebrated online-prediction exchange. Citing Irish law — Intrade is legally domiciled in the blessed land of St. Patrick — it said that it had been obliged to close customers’ accounts. What happened? And what were the “circumstances recently discovered”?

Well, more than a million trades took place on Intrade last year, but just 52,166 this year so far, according to the site’s statistics page, which is now offline. That must have hurt and something grave must have contributed to the fall off the cliff. Bloomberg, using the “irregularities” word, goes there. Missing in action, too, is the Intrade market page on the papal conclave, which begins today. As recently as Sunday, it had been predicting the election of an Italian pontiff, with an implied probability of 47 percent. Cardinal Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, was the clear favorite with an estimated 25 percent chance of white smoke, while Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana followed with 19 percent. Now, alas, the papal electors must get on with the job in Rome without the aid of Intrade, a very worldly enterprise that fell to Earth because of “circumstances recently discovered”.

Rome


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