Will “Prudent” be tomorrow’s budget winner?

Will “Prudent” be tomorrow’s budget winner?


    Can we repeat our 2007 success?

One of the down-sides of political betting is that unlike racing or football or other sporting events you very rarely get the chance to cheer your choice on while an event is running. It’s all rather cold and mechanistic apart from, that is the budget.

Above is a list of spread markets from Sporting Index. Here you look at the list and decide whether Darling is going to say more or less of the words and phrases and then you place a buy or a sell trade.

    My money is on the number of time he uses the word “prudent”. The buy side is at just 1.25 so there is very little down-side risk. I was restricted to a miserly £10 a time so the most I’ll lose is £12.50 – but it seems a good bet.

Last year we had great success on the length of the Chancellor’s speech. There was was strong hint in the Guardian that a record was being planned. This was discussed on the site and quite a lot of people got on.

This appeared two days beforehand: Treasury insiders said the chancellor might seek to break the record for the length of a budget speech, which would mean coming in at either less than the 45 minutes Disraeli took to whiz through his measures in 1867 or more than the four hours and 45 minutes Gladstone took to chunter through his oration in 1853. Let’s hope it’s the former.

This seemed a pretty good pointer which was reasonably well-sourced to suggest that a short speech was being planned. The spread on the speech’s length was 57-59 minutes and I sold at £50 a minute. This meant that for ever minute short of 57 I would make £50 – for every minute above I would lose that amount. There was quite a big down-side risk – for if he had gone on for an hour and 17 minutes I would have been down £1000.

So roll along the budget itself and Gordon started rather slowly. He seemed to have quietened down a lot and his presentational style was different – more measured and more effective. Oh dear, I thought, this is going to take longer than I thought. COME ON GORDON – get on with it I roared at the TV to the immense surprise of those in the university common room who were watching with me.

Half an hour went by and still we hadn’t had a budget measure. This looked bad but then he speeded up and I finished with a profit of about £450.

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Mike Smithson

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