Tuesday, July 29, 2003

C'mon, Mama, Rummy Needs a New Pair o' Shoes!

Ah... our friends over at the Pentagon's Defense Advance Research Projects Agency [DARPA]. home of course of the much beloved Total Information Awareness (oh, sorry, Mr. Poindexter, Terrorism Information Awareness) System, have cooked up another beaut: the Policy Analysis Market.

The Pentagon is setting up a stock-market style system in which investors would bet on terror attacks, assassinations and other events in the Middle East. Defense officials hope to gain intelligence and useful predictions while investors who guessed right would win profits.

[. . .]

The market would work this way. Investors would buy and sell futures contracts — essentially a series of predictions about what they believe might happen in the Mideast. Holder of a futures contract that came true would collect the proceeds of investors who put money into the market but predicted wrong.

A graphic on the market's Web page showed hypothetical futures contracts in which investors could trade on the likelihood that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would be assassinated or Jordanian King Abdullah II would be overthrown.

Although the Web site described the Policy Analysis Market as "a market in the future of the Middle East," the graphic also included the possibility of a North Korea missile attack.

According to its Web site, the Policy Analysis Market would be a joint program of the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA, and two private companies: Net Exchange, a market technologies company, and the Economist Intelligence Unit, the business information arm of the publisher of The Economist magazine.

Sure, it makes sense, doesn't it, that our defenders from the inevitable acts of terrorism that we've been told repeatedly will, for the foreseeable future, continue, should make a bit of money off it all. I mean, they're not the type of people who'd manipulate / influence their market to make a quick buck. Nah. Nobody ever cheats the stock market.