PREDICTION OF BIRD FLU A(H5N1) OUTBREAKS IN TAIWAN BY ONLINE AUCTION: EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
The ability of accurate epidemic prediction facilitates early preparation for the disease and minimizes losses due to any strikes. We devised a platform on the Web for users to exchange their information/opinions on the possible avian flu outbreaks in Taiwan. The likelihood of the first human infection from bird flu in Taiwan in, say, December 2005 is securitized in the form of a futures contract. Incentives are introduced via a tournament: users trade the futures in the market on our Web server in order to win the awards at the end of the tournament. We ran such a tournament during the period between December 2005 and February 2006. The results of the futures' prices correctly predicted no outbreaks of bird flu among the residents in Taiwan during the 3-month period, suggesting that the design of the futures exchange on the Web be a potentially useful tool for event forecasting. Another crucial aspect of the experiment is that, associated with the price convergence, the transaction volume also quickly converges to zero, which is closely related to the famous no-trade theorem in theoretical economics.
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