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Prediction Markets in Theory and Practice

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  • Justin Wolfers
  • Eric Zitzewitz

Abstract

Prediction Markets, sometimes referred to as "information markets," "idea futures" or "event futures", are markets where participants trade contracts whose payoffs are tied to a future event, thereby yielding prices that can be interpreted as market-aggregated forecasts. This article summarizes the recent literature on prediction markets, highlighting both theoretical contributions that emphasize the possibility that these markets efficiently aggregate disperse information, and the lessons from empirical applications which show that market-generated forecasts typically outperform most moderately sophisticated benchmarks. Along the way, we highlight areas ripe for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2006. "Prediction Markets in Theory and Practice," NBER Working Papers 12083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12083
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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. Wolfers, Justin & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2006. "Five Open Questions About Prediction Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 5562, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Colin F. Camerer, 1998. "Can Asset Markets Be Manipulated? A Field Experiment with Racetrack Betting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 457-482, June.
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    5. Plott, Charles R. & Chen, Kay-Yut, 2002. "Information Aggregation Mechanisms: Concept, Design and Implementation for a Sales Forecasting Problem," Working Papers 1131, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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    7. Berg, Joyce & Forsythe, Robert & Nelson, Forrest & Rietz, Thomas, 2008. "Results from a Dozen Years of Election Futures Markets Research," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, in: Charles R. Plott & Vernon L. Smith (ed.), Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 80, pages 742-751, Elsevier.
    8. Erik Snowberg & Justin Wolfers, 2010. "Explaining the Favorite-Long Shot Bias: Is it Risk-Love or Misperceptions?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 723-746, August.
    9. Michael C. Herron & James Lavin & Donald Cram & Jay Silver, 1999. "Measurement of Political Effects in the United States Economy: A Study of the 1992 Presidential Election," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(1), pages 51-81, March.
    10. Erik Snowberg & Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2007. "Partisan Impacts on the Economy: Evidence from Prediction Markets and Close Elections," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 807-829.
    11. Refet Gürkaynak & Justin Wolfers, 2005. "Macroeconomic Derivatives: An Initial Analysis of Market-Based Macro Forecasts, Uncertainty, and Risk," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2005, pages 11-50, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Milgrom, Paul & Stokey, Nancy, 1982. "Information, trade and common knowledge," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 17-27, February.
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    14. Robin Hanson, 2003. "Combinatorial Information Market Design," Information Systems Frontiers, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 107-119, January.
    15. Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2004. "Prediction Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 107-126, Spring.
    16. Joyce E. Berg & Thomas A. Rietz, 2003. "Prediction Markets as Decision Support Systems," Information Systems Frontiers, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 79-93, January.
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    18. Wolfers, Justin & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2006. "Interpreting Prediction Market Prices as Probabilities," IZA Discussion Papers 2092, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Smith, Vernon L, 1985. "Experimental Economics: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 264-272, March.
    20. Sunder, S., 1992. "Experimental Asset Markets: A Survey," GSIA Working Papers 1992-19, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
    21. Wolfers Justin & Zitzewitz Eric, 2004. "Experimental Political Betting Markets and the 2004 Election," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-8, October.
    22. Grossman, Sanford J & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Information and Competitive Price Systems," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 246-253, May.
    23. Robin Hanson, 2006. "Designing real terrorism futures," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 257-274, July.
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    25. Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2009. "Using Markets to Inform Policy: The Case of the Iraq War," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(302), pages 225-250, April.
    26. Paul W. Rhode & Koleman S. Strumpf, 2004. "Historical Presidential Betting Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 127-141, Spring.
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    1. Why did Reddit get the wrong guy? (Or: the Wisdom of Crowds vs. the Madness of Mobs)
      by Noah Smith in Noahpinion on 2013-04-22 01:28:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Coulomb, Renaud & Sangnier, Marc, 2014. "The impact of political majorities on firm value: Do electoral promises or friendship connections matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 158-170.
    2. John J. Nay & Martin Van der Linden & Jonathan M. Gilligan, 2016. "Betting and Belief: Prediction Markets and Attribution of Climate Change," Papers 1603.08961, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2016.
    3. Legge, Stefan & Schmid, Lukas, 2016. "Media attention and betting markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 304-333.
    4. C.J.M. Kool & S. Rosenkranz & M. Middeldorp, 2007. "Listening Without Understanding : Central Bank Transparency, Financial Markets and the Crowding Out of Private Information," Working Papers 07-19, Utrecht School of Economics.
    5. Restocchi, Valerio & McGroarty, Frank & Gerding, Enrico, 2019. "Statistical properties of volume and calendar effects in prediction markets," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 523(C), pages 1150-1160.
    6. Mary Lee Kennedy & Malgorzata (Gosia) Stergios, 2009. "How to Tie Everyday Work to Strategy," Journal of Information & Knowledge Management (JIKM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 8(04), pages 287-300.
    7. Restocchi, Valerio & McGroarty, Frank & Gerding, Enrico, 2019. "The temporal evolution of mispricing in prediction markets," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 303-307.
    8. Victor Tiberius & Christoph Rasche, 2011. "Prognosemärkte," Metrika: International Journal for Theoretical and Applied Statistics, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 467-472, April.
    9. Coulomb, Renaud & Sangnier, Marc, 2014. "The impact of political majorities on firm value: Do electoral promises or friendship connections matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 158-170.
    10. Davis, Brent, 2015. "Forecasting Elections: Do Prediction Markets Tells Us Anything More than the Polls?," MPRA Paper 65505, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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