Monday, November 10, 2008

Arbitraging the Obama inauguration

Maybe we can put some very rough estimates on Obama joy. The government has printed 250,000 tickets for his inauguration that will be distributed through congressmen and senators a week before the inauguration. However, there are people, including legitimate ticket brokers according to CNN, already scalping those tickets and they claim that they will be able provide them. "Ticket brokers act as middlemen, selling inaugural tickets they say they purchase from Capitol Hill employees and people who get them from members of Congress." A Bloomberg article reports, "Someone paid $21,716 for a pair of tickets on EBay Inc.'s, spokeswoman Vanessa Daniele said in an interview. The average price for tickets is currently $1,419, she said. "

It is unlikely that all the people who get them will value them as much as these early buyers, but if the average value is $1000, then just this bit of Obama joy would be worth at least a quarter of a billion dollars. Someone who specializes in cost-benefit analysis could probably do a lot more with these numbers than I can.

I like free. I wish I could get some free tickets. Long live arbitrage!

1 comment:

Michael J Oakes said...

Are the people buying the tickets also ones who are most likely to benefit from Obama's presidency? If he is the president for the middle class and disadvantaged - as his campaign rhetoric suggests - then I wonder if these people will find his help worth a $1,000 ticket.

Or take just automobile workers, whom we might presume he intends to help out in a big way. How many of them can anticipate that his help is valuable enough to warrant a grand for a ticket?

Of course, it is also possible the people spending so much money for these tickets benefit in non-economic ways and that these benefits are actually way greater than any one individual might benefit from changing policies. Better to think of the ticket price to see a president inaugurated more like getting good seats for a limited run Streisand concert in Vegas. She's also all about helping people who can't afford her.