Monday, July 17, 2006

Betting on climate

In a country enamoured with poker (next on ESPN: the World Series of Go Fish) and the almighty, er, once-mighty dollar, the idea of betting on global warming was inevitable. If you can lay a bet in Vegas on no only who will win the Super Bowl, but who will win the coin toss at the Super Bowl, it is only a matter of time before bookmakers are taking odds on the year a wave first makes it right across Funafuti Atoll.

As far as I know, the bookies aren't taking bets yet. But some financial heavy hitters are gambling on warm, catastrophic weather this summer.

Bloomberg news reported last week that hedge funds are now investing heavily in hurricane-related catastrophe bonds sold by insurance companies, which are looking to raise money after last year’s rough hurricane season. In other words, predicting a lot of Atlantic hurricane damage could make some people a lot of money.

I love this Gordon Gekko-ish quote from a hedge fund manager: "Our expert models tell us last year's estimates of hurricane risk need to be raised by 50 percent. That outlook is a great opportunity."

This is creepy even for a hedge fund, which from my rudimentary understanding of the investment world already lean just a bit toward the wrong end of the charitable-donation / mugging-an-elderly-woman-in-a-wheelchair continuum. Are investors out cheering reports of anomalously warm mid-Atlantic ocean temperatures?

No comments: