Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Betting on Disaster

I just got this via email and was so amused and amazed that I had to share it:

The betting odds related to President Trump's recent executive orders:  What will be the cost of the wall? Will Mexico pay? How many Starbucks will close? Will Starbucks hire 10,000 refugees? When will congress repeal Obamacare? This is your insight into what oddsmakers and gamblers think about these questions and more.

Not familiar with the betting lingo? A negative number (generally representing the "Favorite") = how much you have to bet to profit $100.  A positive number = how much you profit if you bet $100.
  1. Cost that the U.S. will Pay to Build a Wall Covering the Mexican Border?
    Over $25 billion: -170 (Bet $170 to profit $100)
    Under $25 billion: +150 (Bet $100 to profit $150)
Analysis on Wall Bet: The research group Bernstein estimates that the wall – standing 40 feet tall and 10 inches thick – will cost around $15 billion just for the materials. Bernstein told Fortune that costs could exceed $25 billion when labor and land acquisition are included.
  1. Will Mexico Pay for the Wall? (Tariff Tax Doesn’t Count)
    Yes: -450
    No: +600
Analysis on Mexico Paying for Wall: This was one of President Trump’s biggest campaign promises, vowing to make Mexico pay for the border wall that would keep illegal immigrants and drugs out. Enraged over Trump’s insistence on the wall, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a late January meeting between the two. Both sides had a “friendly” conversation over the phone, but neither is budging right now.
  1. Will President Enrique Peña Nieto Meet with Madonna or Meryl Streep During Trump’s 4-Year Term?
    Yes: -150
    No: +1200
Analysis on Madonna Meeting: This idea comes from satire in the Vanity Fair, but if things get any worse between President Peña Nieto and Trump over the wall issue, you never know what will happen. Both Streep and Madonna have been very critical of Trump over the last few weeks, so this would be the perfect revenge.
  1. Will President Trump and Peña Nieto Meet within Trump’s 4-Year Term?
    Yes: -130
    No: +110
Analysis on US and Mexican Presidents Meeting: Relations aren’t good right now between Trump and Peña Nieto, especially after the canceled meeting and wall issue. But Trump’s first term lasts until 2020, giving these two sides plenty of time to meet.
  1. How Many Starbucks will Close in Mexico during Boycott within 2017?
    Over 10: -150
    Under 10: +130
Analysis on Starbucks Closing in Mexico: A social media campaign has risen in Mexico to boycott US companies. And for some reason, Starbucks is bearing the brunt of this campaign. Statista.com states that Mexico has 402 Starbucks, and it’s possible that at least 10 could close if the boycott lasts any measurable amount of time.
  1. Number of New Border Patrol Guards Hired during Trump’s Term?
    Over 4,000: -130
    Under 4,000: +110
Analysis on Border Patrol Agents Being Hired: According to MercuryNews, President Trump wants to hire an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents to keep illegal immigrants out of the US. But there are already 2,000 vacancies in the department because two-thirds of the applicants can’t pass a polygraph test. Furthermore, adding 5,000 agents would significantly increase the cost of maintaining the project.
  1. When Will Congress Repeal Obamacare?
    Before April 30, 2017: -210
    After April 30, 2017: +170
Analysis on Repealing Obamacare: Tom Price, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, hasn’t had a confirmation hearing yet. Price and Congress’ Republican majority want to repeal Obamacare, but they don’t have a replacement plan yet. This bet hinges on their ability to get this done and repeal the law before April ends.
  1. Will Repealing Obamacare Lower Health Insurance Rates within 3 Years?
    Yes: -170
    No: +150
Analysis on Obamacare Repeal Raising Insurance Rates: According to eHealth, average health insurance rates for individuals are $321, while family plans cost $833. The motive behind Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to get rid of Obamacare is to lower health insurance rates. Will repealing the law have this effect by the end of his term in 2020?
  1. Will Trump’s Order to Ban Muslim Immigrants be Overturned?
    Yes: -170
    No: +150
Analysis on Trump’s Order on Banning Muslims being Overturned: Trump’s order bars refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days. Trump says that the “new vetting measures” are designed to keep out radical Islamic terrorists. But with judges already moving to block the executive order, and more states expected to join the fight, it seems likely that Trump’s decision could be overruled across the US.
  1. If Trump’s Immigration Ban is Accepted, will Pakistan Immigrants also be Banned?
    Yes: -130
    No: +110
Analysis on Pakistan Immigrants being Banned: As seen above, Pakistan isn’t on Trump’s list of seven banned countries. But Imran Khan, Pakistan’s leading opposition politician, is begging Trump to suspend Pakistani travel visas to the US. Khan wants the country’s youth to stay and build their home country, rather than pursuing American travel dreams. Considering that Osama bin Laden famously lived in Pakistan, it seems like any coaxing from Khan could prove successful.
  1. Will Starbucks Really Hire 10,000 Refugees within the Next 5 Years?
    Yes: +210
    No: -170
Analysis on Starbucks Hiring 10,000 Refugees: Perhaps trying to save his country’s international image (refer to prop bet #5), Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said that his company will hire 10,000 refugees around the world. Schultz wrote an open letter explaining how he wants to help refugees “navigate through this confusing period” following Trumps executive order. But Americans are already boycotting Starbucks amid their plans to hire refugees over American vets and young adults.
Which bets would I place if I had some money to do so? 
I'd bet the under on the Wall costs, because I think they will do half a job and declare victory.
I would pound the no, Mexico won't pay for it, since it would be political suicide to do so.
The odds are not good enough to touch the number of new border guards bet.
I would pound the No, repealing Obamacare would not lead to lower rates.
And I would pound the Yes, Starbucks will hire a heap of refugees.

We do, indeed, live in interesting times.  Profitable times for those willing to gamble.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So Mexico is a prohibitive favorite to pay for the wall, and the odds are very strong that repealing Obamacare will bring prices down? Who are these idiots? (I realize the line is based on how people are expected to bet rather than "objective" likelihood, but still...)