P.J. O’Rourke discusses the humor value of an independent Scotland which he predicts would be a “hilarious disaster”. But the money still favors a “no” vote:
Polls suggest that Scotland’s independence movement could win a Sept. 18 referendum. British bookies aren’t buying it.
The country’s two biggest bookmakers, Ladbrokes (LAD:LN) and William Hill(WMH:LN), are laying 7-to-4 odds against a “yes” vote—even as Britain’s political elite is in a panic over polls showing the race is neck-and-neck. A poll released Sept. 9 by survey group TNS Scotland, showed pro-independence forces with 38 percent support, just one point behind the opposition, while a YouGov survey over the weekend showed the “yes” campaign with a narrow lead.
If those findings are right, you’d expect odds close to 50-50. Yet most of the British bookmakers surveyed here are offering roughly 7-4 odds against independence, meaning that someone who bet 4 pounds on a “yes” vote would win 7 pounds plus the return of her stake if the “yes” campaign won. The payoff for a “no” bet would be much smaller, only 2 pounds on a bet of 5 pounds.
So the markets are wagering that the Scots will decide to stay. The assumption is that rational interests will ultimately trump nationalist passions. It usually is pretty safe to follow the money. Usually, but we are dealing with a pretty contentious electorate: