Think there’s a chance BP will bottom out before year’s end? You have nine days left to place a bet on the oil giant’s bankruptcy and score a quick buck.
Or, more likely, lose one.
BP is less likely to go bankrupt than NASA is to announce the discovery of extraterrestrial life, according to the markets on Intrade today. The event prediction site allows users to buy and sell shares on the outcome of various scenarios, including Ben Bernanke’s loss of the Fed chairmanship by July (17.5 percent chance) and the launch of a USA/Israel air strike against Iran by the end of 2012 (22 percent chance).
BP’s financial future has long held the top business market slot on Intrade. But these days, people are offering a mere penny to buy a share. Surprisingly, the lowest offer to sell is demanding $9.80.
The BP bankruptcy market on Intrade has declined from its most dynamic period in the months following last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.
In July 2010, shares betting on a BP bankruptcy were selling for $1.70, said Carl Wolfenden, Intrade’s exchange operations manager.
Energy issues, including the chance of passing of an emissions cap and trade system, dominate Intrade’s business markets right now. Not that there’s much competition, Woflenden said.
“The business markets are pretty barren, really. They’ve been fairly quiet for a while,” he said. “As soon as it looked like BP wasn’t going to file bankruptcy, it became dead.”
Far more popular are the political event markets (bets on Ron Paul’s victory in the Iowa Caucus were selling for a minimum $4.25 per share Wednesday evening) and financial event markets (predicting the Dow will close on or above 11,000 on Dec. 30 was pulling $9.79 a share).
Intrade is based in Ireland, but most of its membership is in the U.S., Wolfenden said.
“Politics in America is a bit of a blood sport,” he said, explaining the site’s popularity in the U.S. “We tend to not get too excited about it here. But in America, passions run high.”