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Interpreting Prediction Market Prices as Probabilities

Author

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  • Wolfers, Justin
  • Zitzewitz, Eric

Abstract

While most empirical analysis of prediction markets treats prices of binary options as predictions of the probability of future events, Manski (2004) has recently argued that there is little existing theory supporting this practice. We provide relevant analytic foundations, describing sufficient conditions under which prediction markets prices correspond with mean beliefs. Beyond these specific sufficient conditions, we show that for a broad class of models prediction market prices are usually close to the mean beliefs of traders. The key parameters driving trading behavior in prediction markets are the degree of risk aversion and the distribution on beliefs, and we provide some novel data on the distribution of beliefs in a couple of interesting contexts. We find that prediction markets prices typically provide useful (albeit sometimes biased) estimates of average beliefs about the probability an event occurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfers, Justin & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2006. "Interpreting Prediction Market Prices as Probabilities," CEPR Discussion Papers 5676, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5676
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Manski, Charles F., 2006. "Interpreting the predictions of prediction markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 425-429, June.
    2. Leigh, Andrew & Wolfers, Justin & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2003. "What do Financial Markets Think of War in Iraq?," Research Papers 1785, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    3. repec:reg:rpubli:259 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ali, Mukhtar M, 1977. "Probability and Utility Estimates for Racetrack Bettors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 803-815, August.
    5. Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2004. "Prediction Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 107-126, Spring.
    6. Steven Gjerstad, 2004. "Risk Aversion, Beliefs, and Prediction Market Equilibrium," Microeconomics 0411002, EconWPA.
    7. Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 2004. "How Should We Measure Consumer Confidence?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 51-66, Spring.
    8. Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Why are gambling markets organised so differently from financial markets?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 223-246, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    binary option; event future; futures; information market; Manski; options;

    JEL classification:

    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing

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