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Taking Stock in NY Senate Race

Looking for a unique investment? A Web site run by professors at the University of Iowa offers a chance to buy shares in the outcome of the 2000 New York Senate race.

Iowa Electronic Markets allows would-be political investors to wager on the race by buying shares on first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton or New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for as little as $5 or as much as $500.

"It's a wonderful way to have a widespread experiment to study market behavior. Plus, It's fun," Robert Forsythe, a co-founder of the IEM and an associate dean at the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, told The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

After logging on to the Web site, investors are also offered choices of "another Democrat" or "another Republican" or independent. The initial investment is made by printing the application and mailing in a check. Subsequent trading is done electronically.

The posted price is determined by the volume of investments in each candidate. On Monday, Clinton's shares were sold for 38.0 cents, and Giuliani's sold for 39.7 cents.

The first lady is considering running for the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Giuliani is considering a bid for the Republican nomination.

After the election, shares of the winning candidate will be worth $1 each. The losing candidate's shares will be worthless. Investors can also try to make money by attempting to anticipate market trends during the campaign and buying and selling shares.

The market is legal, and is overseen by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Forsythe said. The university won't make a profit, he said.

IEM has offered investment opportunities in a handful of races since its founding in 1988. The market's heaviest volume was for the 1996 presidential election when 7,000 investors wagered $250,000.

Next year's New York Senate race has attracted 1,900 traders who have put in $25,000, Forsythe said.

The IEM Web site can be found at www.biz.uiowa.edu/iem.

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