I’ve started the week £50 better off thanks to a canny spread bet I had placed on Labour’s likely performance at the next general election. A few months ago, anticipating a “Brown bounce” once the chancellor moved into Number 10, I placed a bet “buying” Labour seats at 283, which meant that for every seat over that number that Labour gained at the next election, I would win my stake of £7 (Mike Smithson over at politicalbetting.com has a rather more eloquent explanation).
The good thing about spread markets is that you don’t need to wait for the outcome of the event in question to cash in—you can profit simply by taking advantage of the movement of the market. This is why I was able to make money from the Brown bounce without having any particular view on how Labour is likely to perform at the ballot box. Once the effect of the bounce had become clear in published opinion polls, the markets started to move in Labour’s favour, and I was able to “sell” my bet at 290, making myself a tidy profit of £49 (290-283=7, multiplied by my £7 stake).