Bryan Caplan  

My Complete Bet Inventory

The Overeducated World: Anothe... Taking Up Bryan's Challenge...
University of Chicago student Brian McDonald has graciously inventoried all my outstanding bets, including a couple I'd forgotten about.  His complete list:

Bryan Caplan's bets in order of closing date:

1. "I've bet my $200 to Walter's $1 that Ron Paul will not be the next U.S. president." (here) Date (bet made and/or publicized): 07/11/07.  Status: closed, Caplan won.

2. "If France, Germany, and Italy remain on the Euro as of December 31, 2010, Rabkin owes me $20.  Otherwise, I owe him $20." (here) Date: 01/22/07.  Status: open.

3. "If the Director of the OMB's 2013 report says that a shortfall exists [in the repayment of TARP], I win.  Otherwise, I lose.  The stakes: I will make up to five $100 bets at even odds." (here) Date: 10/07/08. Status: open.

4. "If the official initially reported U.S. monthly unemployment rate falls below 8.0% for any month between now and June, 2015, I win $100.  Otherwise, Mish wins $100." (here) Date: 03/21/10. Status: open.

5. "At any point between now and January 2016, if there is a year/year increase in seasonally adjusted CPI that is at least 10%, then you [Bryan Caplan] pay me at that time $100.  If we get to January 2016, and there has not been any 12-month stretch in which the above happened, then I [Bob Murphy] pay you $100 at that time." (here) Date: 12/14/09. Status: open.

6. "I predict that Republicans will regain control of at least one branch of the federal government at some point between now and January 20, 2017 (two inaugurations from now).  So Arnold, how about a $100 bet at even odds? [bet accepted]" (here) Date: 05/19/09. Status: open.

7. "I will bet $100, even odds, that the U.S. price of gas (including taxes) in the first week of January, 2018 will be $3.00 or less in 2008 dollars." (here) Date: 01/01/08.  Status: open.

8. "If the total number of deaths in France from riots and terrorism is less than 500 between May 28, 2008 and May 28, 2018, Franck owes me $50.  If the total number is 500 or more, I owe him $50." (here) Date: 05/28/08. Status: open.

9. "The stake is $US100 and the agreed criterion is that, for Bryan to win, the average Eurostat harmonised unemployment rate for the EU-15 over the period 2009-2018 inclusive should exceed that for the US by at least 1.5 percentage points." (here) Date: 05/28/09. Status: open.

10. "If any current EU member with a population over 10 million people in 2007 [Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, Poland, Romania, Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Hungary] officially withdraws from the EU before January 1, 2020, I willy pay you $100.  Otherwise, you owe me $100." (here) Date: 04/26/08. Status: open.

Any he's missed?  And which have intervening events made me most likely to lose?  I'm most worried about #3, because so many legislative changes have happened that it's unclear what the OMB's reporting responsibilities in 2013 will be.  I always knew I was putting myself at the mercy of the government's self-monitoring, but I decided the case against was so strong that even moderate chicanery wouldn't stop me from winning.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (17 to date)
agnostic writes:

Why don't any of them take into account how right or how wrong one side will be?

"Republicans gain control of at least one branch of federal govt" could mean that they have 1 more than half of the House and Senate members, or it could mean they have 100% of them.

Or for unemployment, every tenth of a percentage point above/below 8.0% gives the winner X dollars -- cumulatively over all months during the period of the bet.

Lewis writes:

They did take into account how right/wrong one side will be.

"I've bet my $200 to Walter's $1 that Ron Paul will not be the next U.S. president."

The other implicit way of doing this was the right/wrong factor is embedded into the terms of the bet.

rapscallion writes:

It seems like you're basically betting against deviations from the status quo and historical trends.

Robert writes:

I'm confused by bet #5.

"if there is a year/year increase in seasonally adjusted CPI that is at least 10%, then you [Bob Murphy] pay me at that time $100. "

Are you betting there will be high inflation, or that there will not be? I would be most worried about that bet if the former.

Tom Dougherty writes:

Bryan was smart on number 4 by not specifying whether the seasonally or not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is controlling. The way the bet is written you can win on either one falling below 8%.

Number 6 is money in the bank for Bryan.

Will Smit writes:

Agree with @Robert - my reading of the original is that Murphy is the one betting on high inflation and that the brackets are incorrect?

Bob Murphy writes:


You should feel confident about bet #5, but only because the compiler got mixed up and reversed our positions.

agnostic writes:

"They did take into account how right/wrong one side will be."

No, they are all binary true/false bets. For the Ron Paul example, a how right / how wrong bet would say something like, "I bet that Ron Paul wins at least X electoral college votes, and if not, I'll pay you proportional to the discrepancy between observed and predicted votes."

We want to know not just what someone thinks will happen, but to what extent that thing will happen -- or if they're wrong, how wrong will they be.

Just take the "Republicans in control" bet -- that has very different real-world implications if they only control 50%+1 of the Senators and Representatives, vs. 100%. That's the point of forecasting -- to get a feel for what the atmosphere, climate, or zeitgeist will feel like.

Brian McDonald writes:

Sorry, I screwed up number 5. I updated my page accordingly, so the list at the link is now accurate.

Noah Yetter writes:

Not worried about #10? Not even a little? Not even after reading this?

Salem writes:

Noah - even if Greece withdraws from the Euro, there is no way it withdraws from the EU.

Looking at the bets:

#1 you've won.
#2 you've basically won.
#3 I do not know enough to comment.
#4 You must surely win, or we are all doomed.
#5 I am unsure who is betting on what. But if we have 10% inflation, it implies that the government is taking aggressive measures to make sure you win bet 4. These bets are not independent!
#6 seems like a no-brainer. You might even win this in November.
#7 I think you will lose this one badly. Even if you are right about the exchange rate, I predict you will be crushed on the tax rate.
#8 Something big and nasty would have to happen for you to lose this one. But big and nasty things do sometimes happen, and 8 years is a long time.
#9 I do not know enough to comment.
#10 I cannot imagine you losing. 10 years is a long time, but even so.

ziel writes:

Technically speaking, you've already won #6 - Republicans currently control the branch of government defined by Article 3, with a 5-4 majority.

Troy Camplin writes:

You may have to register as a casino at this rate. :-)

8 writes:

I think you are in trouble with #10:

Trichet told the Financial Times the suspension of the voting rights of member states who breach the conditions "is something that should be explored" but that he did not back expelling them.
#4 You must surely win, or we are all doomed.
We are doomed.

Bryan Caplan writes:

I fixed #5. Thanks guys.

Brandon Minster writes:

In reading Bet #8, I mistakenly thought you were betting against the nation of France itself. I thought, "How's he going to collect on that?"

Piet le Roux writes:

Brian asked for bets about Seasteading (Over the Sea: Patri's dream), but it is not clear if he picked up on the bet proposed by one of his commentors, Mason, at

Mason's proposition:

By 2015 there will be 5,000 people living at sea in a sustainable economy (net wealth of those aboard is not consumed by being at sea, and no more donations) who are not citizens of any currently recognized country.

I'd bet against with 2:1 odds. If the deadline was 2025 I'd still bet against but only at even odds.

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