David R. Henderson  

Raising the Stakes

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There's a lot of discussion on this blog on raising the stakes. For the record, I offered to bet Paul Krugman $1,000, in a Simon-Ehrlich kind of bet, on the future price of oil. He didn't respond. (See http://www.davidrhenderson.com/articles/0297_isthereanewdigital.html and http://www.davidrhenderson.com/articles/0699_theinformationeconomy.html .)

I also offered to bet a Congressman $5,000 on oil reserves. He did accept and we shook hands on it in front of 7 other Congressmen. The Congressman I bet with was Roscoe Bartlett. I bet that in September 2017 (10 years after our bet), reserves of oil would be higher than they were in September 2007. The context was that I was briefing 8 Congressmen (Ron Paul, Jimmy Duncan, Paul Broun, Tom Tancredo, Roscoe Bartlett, Walter Jones, Scott Garrett, and Jack Kingston) on why we don't need to go to war for oil. The briefing was based on my Independent Institute study. 7 out of the 8 Congressmen got it. Roscoe Bartlett couldn't see past "peak oil." Thus the bet. Now, he looks good for his age and I didn't realize how old he was when I made the bet. I might be settling, either way, with his estate.


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The author at Samizdata.net in a related article titled Making bets writes:
    I rather like this habit of economists trying to put their own money on the line in making certain predictions. David Henderson has an item about it. It adds a certain frisson to the joustings between different camps. The most famous bet of all, of cou... [Tracked on November 26, 2010 2:32 AM]
COMMENTS (11 to date)
Brian Clendinen writes:

Maybe because Roscoe Bartlett was a(the?) founding member of the Peak Oil Caucus per wikipedia. So is he a true believer or just does not want to appear he is flip-flopping? Some times flip-flopping is a good thing, just don't due it on the same issue more than once.

David N writes:

I might be settling, either way, with his estate.

What a thing to write.

Scott Clark writes:

I might be settling, either way, with his estate.

You could place a bet on the life expectancy of Rep. Roscoe as way to hedge. If there were an active betting market on that sort of thing, you would be able to gauge the probabilities that Rep. Roscoe will be alive in 2017.

FC writes:

Per Wikipedia, he is a physiologist by training, so one would expect him to be in good condition. But what are the health outcomes among biological scientists? That would make an interesting paper.

GU writes:
"I didn't realize how old he was when I made the bet. I might be settling, either way, with his estate."

Unnecessarily morbid, no?

Kurbla writes:

You positively surprised me with "Do We Need to Go to War for Oil." It looked like you'll only analyse oil price and availability, but eventually, you clearly wrote that you do not support aggression.

Dave writes:

Your bet is quite a bit different than the Simon-Erlich one.

The Simon-Erlich bet concerned a basket of commodities. Had the Simon-Erlich bet been just about tin, Erlich would have won.

Maybe there will be smaller reserves of oil (but not 'energy') in the future.

Hyena writes:

I always debate whether reserves have peaked. On the one hand, you get a lot of information saying they have. On the other, I get information that published numbers aren't correct.

I can easily see us as having reached or being near a peak; but I can just as easily imagine that tomorrow one or more very important numbers will turn out to be based on an error.

Dan writes:

If you do end up settling with his estate, your oral contract might be found to be unenforceable, particularly since it's a wager.

Jacob Oost writes:

Wow. Just wow.

kharris writes:

Asserting that Bartlett's disagreement with your view represents a deficiency on his part is small-minded. He disagrees. There's a bet on the outcome. That's how the matter stands. Enough said. The giggly bit about settling with his estate seems in the same mean spirit.

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