Mexico (share price 11.91) is the only country featuring on the whole market tag-cloud, although has a relatively small market cap and share price. I would have thought that with all the hullabaloo over the Novel H1N1 Influenza virus, players would have cottoned onto the rising share price of this country. It is also surprising that ExtZy players have not bought shares in other countries currently featuring prominently in the media. The share price for Iran is at 10.34, 9.12 and Iraq 11.01 (which top YouTube's price of 10.00). These figures drive the question: are players missing out on a prize-winning opportunity… which is founded on human conflict?
Just after the so-called 'election' in Iran I bought shares, as I realised that the conflict would continue and the country's name would be exponentially mentioned across the Web. However, I did feel a twinge of something when, after having bought 20 shares in Iran, reading the newspaper I realised the scale of the repression. The protesting becomes especially poignant given the bloodshed just 30 years ago against the fundamentalist regime of Ayatollah Khomeini and the war with Saddam's Iraq. Nevertheless, IMHO, Iran has become a 'glamorous' strife, highly Tweeted and YouTubed on the Internet, with the tragic death of Neda Agha-Soltan receiving much media attention and her last images being heralded as iconic as the student in Tiananmen Square.
Observing another country experiencing civil turmoil, Sri Lanka, and its share price (9.12), there seems to be an asymmetry in the way the plight of the Tamils is reported, and watched. The top hits on YouTube videos searching "Iran protests" are in the hundred thousand mark, compared to the low thousands results for "Tamil protests". Turning to the activity on ExtZy, whilst no shares have been issued for Sri Lanka, despite the news-worthy unrest in Sri Lanka over the last year, there is a healthy amount of activity for New Caledonia. It's a French island in the Pacific and very, very picturesque. I can understand why someone would buy shares (as 200 have been sold already), as it may be the closest we can get to 'owning' an island, but how it will be thrown into the media limelight is beyond me. Although I have never been, it seems to be a peaceful, scenic island where the most probable reason for headline-making may be a surge for independence or sea-level rise – although neither of these is very likely in ExtZy's lifetime. Why traders choose to buy some shares over others and why journalists choose to write about some conflicts and not others are probably along the same line of reasoning (but that's a rather more complicated story for another blog entry…)
Ian Harris' lecture on commerce and ethics at Gresham College got me thinking – if businesses ought to incorporate ethics every step along Profit Way, then we as prediction market players, also ought to consider the ethics of our trading. Although there are no direct repercussions, for example, buying Yahoo! shares in ExtZy will not induce an oil spill, use child labour or cause the extinction of Bluefin Tuna, perhaps we ought to be questioning the ethics behind the shares we buy. If you are looking for ethical shares – why not buy some in this very lecture? There are heaps of ethical stocks in ExtZy, from lectures on inequality to why bees matter to how to make IT green. Trading these webpage's shares enable "voting with the feet", a way of showing that you can marry finance with a conscience for those who are in a less privileged position than ourselves.