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Release: Nov. 17, 2000

Iowa Electronic Markets name Gore winner in futures payoff

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The presidential election is over, at least in the Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM). The IEM has declared Al Gore the popular vote winner over George W. Bush.

Because the IEM follows the percentage of the national popular vote, IEM traders don't have to fret over recounts, late absentee ballots and legal challenges in Florida to determine the winner of its Electoral College votes.

The IEM, the University of Iowa's real-money market in which traders buy and sell political futures, declared Al Gore the winner based on his winning by a 200,000-vote majority of the popular election as published in the Nov. 10 Washington Post.

Following the rules laid out in the market prospectus, IEM directors liquidated two presidential markets on Nov. 10. In the vote-share market, which pays on the percentage of the popular vote, traders were paid .499 cents for Gore contracts, .497 for Bush contracts, and .004 for Pat Buchanan. In the winner-take-all market, the IEM paid $1 for Gore contracts, nothing for Bush and Buchanan contracts.

In its New York Senate winner-take-all market, the IEM paid $1 for the winning Hillary Clinton contracts, which had been trading in the 60- to 70-cent range for several weeks leading up to the election.

IEM directors have closed their congressional control market, but will delay payoffs until a winner in the state of Washington's Senate race is officially named.

Traders who bought Gore contracts at his pre-election level of 30 cents profited after the $1 payoff in the winner-take-all presidential market. Bush shares had traded at about 70 cents. However, profits were slim in the vote share market, in which the margins between the candidates were narrow, with shares separated by only a few cents during the campaign.

While the IEM vote share market showed Bush as the winner on election eve at .514 cents, it was only by a narrow margin -- Gore was at .469 cents and Buchanan at .017. Prices had shifted back and forth; on Nov. 5, Gore was leading .498 cents to .485 for Bush.

Since it started operating in 1988, the market has had an average prediction error of 1.37 percent, including this year's race, in which the average prediction error was 1.96 percent, according to Tom Rietz, UI associate professor of finance and IEM co-director.

The IEM had 7,000 traders and more than $210,000 in equity. For an investment of as little as $5 or as much as $500, trading in the markets was open to participants worldwide.

Six faculty members at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business operate the markets as a research and teaching tool. See the markets online at for more information or contact Jeanine Alcocer, IEM Operations Manager at (319) 335-0794.