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Assassination market

An assassination market is a (theoretical) market wherein any party can place a bet (using anonymous electronic money, and pseudonymous remailers) on the date of death of a given individual, and collect a payoff if they "guess" the date accurately. Because the payoff is for knowing the date rather than performing the action of the assassin, it is substantially more difficult to assign criminal liability for the action(s).

Jim Bell's article assassination politics first described the concept in detail, and Timothy C. May later developed the cryptographic protocols to implement it to the point that the FBI investigated his motives for doing so. This amused most educated commentators, who note that assassination is already commonly bet on in the financial markets. In particular, the oil market, where the assassination of major figures such as Saddam Hussein would have an immediate impact--very profitable for anyone anticipating it.

These issues left the realm of the theoretical when U.S. stock markets based in Manhattan took a trillion-dollar hit in September, 2001. A serious investigation was launched in fall 2001 by the U.S. government's Securities and Exchange Commission to determine if large blocks of short-sold airline stock could be traced back to the Al Qaeda organization it believed responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the U.S.A.

The extensive cooperation of militant Islamic fundamentalist "terrorist" groups, and suggestions that they were in fact trading targets and objectives in different nations, gave rise to the idea that a covert assassination swap market may well already be in global operation. A group would perform an action in one place and a seemingly unrelated group in another place would profit from the act. Meanwhile, the political motive would actually be that of a third group in the background.

If such a market structure has in fact matured, it seems that only profound changes to global financial markets and the clearing of financial transactions could reveal systematic profits made from predicting military action, political assassination, or social unrest.

See also: celebrity stiff, crypto-anarchism.

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