Welcome to the first of our updates from the curator’s desk with Syria topping the bill. The idea is to provide these on a regular basis to help you achieve the best way to win points and climb the leader boards.  If you visit the questions regularly and check back on our little updates it will save you a bit of time trawling through the site to find where the action is each time you log on. We may even give you a few useful pointers!

SyriaThe most active question currently is “Will the UK Parliament vote to authorise bombing raids in Syrian territory by the end of 2015?” which is unsurprising given the importance of the event and the fact that a vote is due this evening in the House of Commons on Syria. With the market showing a 98% likelihood of a vote in favour of such airstrikes, sadly there doesn’t seem much value to be had. I certainly can’t fault that assessment and it seems as if this is a done deal in Syria. You could nudge the market further up towards 100%, but you’ll find that the risk/reward balance gets pretty steep as you get that close to either the 0% or 100% level.

Perhaps you can seek similar value elsewhere. Coverage in the UK press on the Syrian vote has been dominated by internal conflicts within the opposition Labour Party where leader Jeremy Corbyn in open conflict with many of his MPs and even his shadow foreign minister – Jeremy’s against the airstrikes. The “Will Jeremy Corbyn lead the Labour Party into the next UK general election?” might be worth a visit – it’s currently running at 18%.

Sticking with the Jeremy Corbyn theme, the beleaguered leader faces a crucial electoral test tomorrow in the Oldham West and Royton by-election. Labour seem to have only a 79% chance of defending the 34.2% winning margin they achieved only last May. If Labour have a 21% chance of losing one of their safest seats in the country, does their leader still really have an 18% chance of sticking around for the coming four-and-a-half years?

Moving onto a more enjoyable subject, the “Will Sweden win Eurovision again in 2016” question has been getting a good deal of activity. Everybody likes a bit of light relief it seems – but I’m not sure how “light” this question really is.

Sweden is going to win a second consecutive win, a feat only managed by two countries in Eurovision’s history: Ireland (three wins 1992-94) and Israel (1978-79). Both had a backdrop of conflict. All of Ireland’s record seven victories came during “The Troubles” of 1968-98. The first of these, in 1970, came as both UK and Ireland sent Northern Irish performers to represent them. Their run of three consecutive victories (and four in five years) in the nineties came at a crucial point in the armed/political struggle.

Similarly, Israel’s consecutive victories came at the time of the 1978 South Lebanon conflict in which Israeli forces, responding to terrorist attacks on its civilians, pushed into South Lebanon in order to drive PLO forces away from its border.

The Eurovision is more than just a pop competition. It’s can be very political. What chances would you give Russia, last year’s runner-up, to go one better in this year’s competition?

Finally, because there are a lot of Australians members of the almanis crowd, I thought it might be worth pointing out that said crowd looks suspiciously bullish aussie stocks. We’ve got a raft of questions on different national stock indexes, asking whether they might hit their previous peaks or a 20% downward correction first. Just taking a simple peak at where those stock indexes are now in relation to their previous peaks, it seems there is some real expectation of aussie outperformance. Aussie bias? Or do they know something we don’t?


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