Hurricane Futures Market Launched

It wasn't exactly the pit of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, but a futures market opened Wednesday allowing hurricane experts to put their money on where they think Tropical Storm Katrina will make landfall. Coordinated by the Rosenstiel school and the Iowa Electronic Market at the University of Iowa, the Hurricane Futures Market opened briefly earlier this month for short-lived Hurricane Irene. Katrina, however "will be its first real test," said FORREST NELSON, a University of Iowa economics professor and one of the coordinators of Iowa Electronic Markets. Though the exact number was unclear, by Wednesday afternoon only a handful of investors had traded Katrina shares, Nelson said. The market had just 23 open accounts as of Monday, but that number will almost certainly grow. The newspaper is based in Florida.