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Office Hours: Betting on Brexit

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Joe and I have been working with the Brier Fund – a private investment partnership managed by “Superforecasters” from Philip Tetlock’s Good Judgement Project. In fact, the new options course we are busily working on right now — Options for Intelligent Investors — started out as a training project for Brier Fund members.

The Superforecasters are scattered all over the world, and one of the founders of the Brier Fund — Mr. Brett Specter — is an American living in Spain while running a business in the UK. Because of his deep European connections and his business — import / export of medical supplies — we invited him to talk about some of the root causes of Brexit and what he and other Superforecasters think the most likely outcomes are.

Brett makes the point that the situation is fluid and the situation is changing daily, but gave us a good understanding of the main issues involved in negotiation and of some interesting areas to look for investments. He is joined by Mr. Seamus Fagan, an Irish scientist and fellow Superforecaster, to give the Irish perspective. Northern Ireland turns out to be a very important lynchpin in the present discussions, so understanding Brexit from the view of someone close to the ground is invaluable!

I’ve also started a Framework Forum thread on Brexit and have some comments sent by Seamus regarding investment ideas there as well.


Here, I provide a short overview of The Good Judgement Project, Superforecasting, and the Brier Fund, as well as providing a short introduction of Brett and Seamus. You’ll love the Economist cartoon that by chance was published the morning we spoke with Brett and Seamus.

Brett’s Introduction

Brett explains a bit about his own background, what his company does, and about the Brier Fund. I quote from one of my favorite modern philosophers, Mr. Mike Tyson.

Brexit: A Left-Right Question?

Here in the States, we have become accustomed to polarized politics and a sharp policy divide on partisan grounds. In this brief video, Brett and Seamus make the point that Brexit does not necessarily fit that model.

The Irish View

As I mentioned above, Ireland, and the border between the southern Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, is ground zero of the Brexit negotiations. Here’s why.

Can there be a Second Referendum?

Former (Conservative) Prime Minister, John Major, recently suggested a second referendum — or, more precisely, a vote in Parliament — to try to head off what now looks increasingly to even Leave supporters as a mistake. The Superforecasters, it turns out, are split on their perception of the likelihood of a second vote.

Was Brexit a referendum on immigration?

There are a lot of similarities between the 2016 Brexit vote and the 2016 US Presidential vote, not the least of which was the kind of verbiage and imagery used to depict migrants to the respective countries. I was surprised by the similarities, but also by Brett’s distinction about the terms “immigration” and “sovereignty”.

The most important issues for Brexit negotiators

Negotiations are a mess, like an overturned clown car. What are the most important points that negotiators have their focus on right now?

Forecasts and Opportunities

What do the Superforecasters think is the likelihood of various Brexit scenarios — including Brexit not occurring? What are some areas in which to look in terms of investment opportunities?

Long-Term effects of Brexit

In articles last year, I opined that Trump’s announced policies would have the unintended effect of structurally retarding US economic growth over the long term. Brexit also appears to have much the same effect. The Superforecasters weigh in on this opinion and Seamus provides an interesting point about demographics. Remember kids, Demographics is Destiny…