Friday, September 30, 2005

BETTING ON THE FUTURE

My friend at PaddyPower.Com and I chatted today. Things are hotting up.

First, Bono continues to have 1000:1 odds on being the person to succeed Pope Benedict, with Father Ted (from the TV series of this name) also attracting these same odds. More seriously, they have Cardinal Scola of Venice as 6:1 favourite. I think this is unlikely, and I would bet on a non Italian – probably, Latin American given what we now know about the voting the last time around. Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina looks a possibility (currently with odds of 9:1). However, he is currently 69. If the Pope does 8-10 years, he will be too old. So I think this race looks open.

Other betting is going on who will be next Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in the US when Greenspan steps down. Favourite, according to Paddy Power, is Ben Bernanke (at 4-5). He is Chair, Council of Economic Advisors and the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and the Chairman of the Department of Economics. He is a macroeconomist with interests in monetary policy and macroeconomic history. He is the Director of the Monetary Economics Program of the National Bureau of Economics Research and the Editor of the American Economic Review. Since joining the Fed's Board of Governors in August 2002, he has been the focus of intense media scrutiny. In their search for an angle, the media frequently portray Bernanke as something of a maverick. One newspaper profile calls him the Fed's “resident free thinker”; a popular business magazine suggests he's a “firebrand” who shakes up the Fed by “pitching curves.” The adjective “outspoken” is often applied. Sounds like a good Bush like choice.

In terms of the leadership of the UK Conservative Party, assuming a big field, PaddyPower gives is to David Davis, a fellow Yorkshireman. They have him close but beating Ken Clark, with Liam Fox third and David Cameron fourth. (Interestingly, William Hague the former leader would do well if he ran, according to this source).

There are also bets on when Tony Blair will step down. While there was a fair bit of money on this year end (2005), most of the money has moved to 2007 when he will be amongst the longest serving PM’s and yet could step down to give the dour, and weak Gordon Brown a good couple of years before he had to go to the electorate – the betting is 7-4 in favour of 2007.

Given that Kate Moss has been sacked as the face of Burberry, you can also place bets on who will take over this socially critical role. Sienna Miller – actress, seen in the remake of Alfie - is front runner, with Keira Knightley (or twice Knightly, as some call her) – actress and beauty, seen in Pirates of the Caribbean - as a close second. If it were me, I’d plump for Maria Sharapova (16:1).

I don’t really know what makes me keep an eye on the betting, though as a futurist its always interesting to test what actually happens against what one thinks might happen. I don’t actually place bets – I went to school with someone who works there, so we chat – but apparently many (many) do.

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