Goldman Sachs Offers Its Predictions And Cackles Malevolently. I Kid, They Just Offer Wimpy Predictions!

June 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

So the men and women of Goldman Sachs, in an attempt to show their humanity and prove their “non-Borg-ian” qualities, put out a World Cup preview packet. See, guys, they aren’t all corporate wheeler-dealers who use the public coffers to enrich themselves and buffer themselves from failure, they also think Wayne Rooney’s amazing!

Analysis-wise (in theory), these are the cream of the cream that was on top of a crop of cream. They picked 3 out of 4 semifinalists in 1998 and 2006. Evil bastards though they may be, they are smart and often-times correct, as is the wont of evil bastards. So it is with some interest that I looked this thing over.

It’s close to 75 pages long, and since I’m a masochist and a soccer lover, I read the whole thing so you don’t have to.


Goldman Sachs clients voted this 4-3-3 team as favorites:

———— Buffon ————




So I have no idea why Ribery made this, and we’ll ignore the dissonant assignment based on the formation (no All-Star team ever truly makes sense). What else does this tell us about Goldman Sachs clientele?

  • They are frontrunning douches who probably only have stadium boxes for business and impressing hot chicks into sleeping with them. Man U, Chelsea, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid are the homes of these players. This is like proclaiming your passion for Star Wars by saying “Dude, that Darth Vader guy is amazing!” The most “underdog” team represented by these players is Juventus. Juventus, otherwise known as the winningest team in Italian history. Way to dig deep and show your fanhood, guys.
  • Like most people. they vote for defenders based on what commentators say about them rather than analyze them for themselves. I’m borderline okay with Ashley Cole, but John Terry? And while you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger Dani Alves fan than myself (trust me, there have been some embarrassingly rhapsodic text messages about that man), the fact that Maicon didn’t make the honorable mention list is outrageous. Rio Ferdinand was first-out!


Goldman Sachs being Goldman Sachs, they are able to pull in a quite-powerful lineup of government officials into the packet (business and government blurring together you say? Piffle, dear boy. Since when did you join the Reds?), including: Tito Mboweni, Former South Africa Central Bank Governor; Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov; and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes.


GS’s odds and probabilities:

1. Brazil –  9/2 – 13.76%

2. Spain –  4/1 – 10.46%

3. Germany – 10/1 – 9.40%

4. England – 11/2 – 9.38%

5. Argentina – 7/1 – 9.08%

6. Netherlands – 11/1 – 7.07%

7. Italy – 12/1 – 6.46%

8. France (!) – 16/1 – 6.13%

9. USA (!!) – 66/1 – 2.81%

10. Serbia – 66/1 – 2.61%

Lookit, if they end up being right on France, and Les Bleus make the quarterfinals, I’ll own to it *rereads that first part, collapses into pile of snorts and guffaws*. But if I’m right, I want a cushy corner office, a cut into the latest “20 and 20” private equity deal, and full immunity from international prosecution for corporate malfeasance. Turnabout’s fair play. Full graph below:

And yet again, France is picked too high. Though the %'s from that group are pretty giggle-tastic.


Following some of that sterling analysis, our GoldSacks boys make sure to toss out a couple pages to “charity”, where some bland-sounding man puts out a bland-sounding plea to help raise money for education in Africa. This is where I get sorta serious for a moment and link to former GS economist Dambisa Moyo’s website. She wrote a book called “Dead Aid” that is the most clear-headed take on Africa, aid, and the continent’s future available today. She’s positioned herself as the anti-Bono: if that doesn’t commend her to you, I’m at a loss.


GS then gets into comparing the standard BRIC economic sphere. For those non-wonks, BRIC refers to “Brazil, Russia, India, and China” which is widely considered the big 4 of Growth Countries. It’s interesting for those of us who read policy papers for fun in college (virgins, that is), but everyone else can skip it. Though this excerpted paragraph is worth reading.

Being big is definitely an advantage for countries when it comes to football. The fact that Germany and Italy are the most successful European nations, followed by England and France, almost definitely has something to do with the size of their populations. The more men you have, the more there are to choose from—it is probably that simple. Brazil is easily the largest population country in Latin America, so the same seems true. Being big and wealthy would appear to offer further advantages. Russia has the biggest population of any country that might be regarded as vaguely European but, consistent with their relatively low GES (Growth Environment Score which tracks stuff like corruption and stability –ed.) compared with the likes of a Germany, Russia—so far—has not been able to transform the standards of its national football team, as many would argue it hasn’t for the country as a whole or for people’s living standards.
Wow, I actually agree with this. I feel sorta light-headed, actually. Let’s just move on.

Then follows a bunch of the aforementioned muckety-muck types pushing their respective nations as deserving of the 2018 World Cup Bid. The British guy spells it “minimises”, the Russian guy blows smoke about everyone in Russia loving soccer (we all know it’s vodka!), and the American tosses out a truly horrific phrase: “The Game is in US!” *embarrassed yet again by my fellow countrymen*
FWIW, the independent analyst thinks the US is going to be the strong favorite for the 2022 WC bid. By then I will be 38 and, if everything goes according to plan, oligarch rich. So bully to that, since I’ll buy up a box at every stadium the Cup plays in.

GS then previews every team in the cup, but honestly spends more time on each nation’s economic future than on its squad. Though here are some highlights:
– On Australia:
2006 proved to be a bitter-sweet experience for Australia. Losing to the eventual winner Italy saw Australia emerge as one of the biggest surprises of the 2006 campaign. However, the manner of the loss has not been forgotten. Australians unanimously believe a dive in the Australian box by Italian player Grosso saw Italy awarded a questionable penalty and a 0-1 score line at the 94th minute mark. Australians are much better prepared in 2010, with Russell Crowe seen in the Australian camp teaching the players to fall over convincingly and writhe in pain.
Humor, y’all!
– On the Ivory Coast:
With players of the calibre of Drogba, Kalou, Eboué and the Touré brothers in the Ivorian starting eleven, the connoisseurs among us will be relishing the feast of attacking football in prospect, although expectations may need to be tempered with the arrival of a pragmatic European coach in the form of Sven-Göran Eriksson.
That’s weapons-grade understatement-ing there, guys.
– England: “We’ll show you how to crash like a man, Greece!”
Following a sequence of leveraged buy-outs during the boom years, clubs in England’s Premier League owe an aggregate £3.4bn, as much as all other European clubs put together.
We should put that number in a little perspective. English clubs also have half the assets of Europe’s football clubs; £3.4bn is also what the UK government currently borrows every week.
England is like Robert Downey, Jr. circa 2000: everyone and everything around them is asking them to “take it easy” while they can’t hear the sage advice over coke-snorts, mariachi music, barnyard noises, and police sirens. Livin’ like champs.
– Goldman Sachs interviews Edwin van der Sar. It’s a sad interview, with lots of excessive exclamation points
– On New Zealand:
Known more for hobbits, idyllic scenery and brutes in black jerseys crashing into one another on the rugby field than skills with the round ball, New Zealand has come storming back onto the world stage of soccer—well, at least sidled through the back door.
Sachs on fire, yo!
All in all, it’s pretty standard predictive stuff with nothing especially outside the norm for the blogosphere. They suffer from the same problems of predictions-now-ruined-by-injury as everyone else. Yawn.

Group A: Mexico wins, South Africa second. (Totally agree)
Group B: Argentina wins, Nigeria second. (Ditto here)
Group C: I’m going to direct quote their whole paragraph here:
looks very friendly to England, and in an effort to help boost the game in the US, let’s assume they come second! Both Algeria and Slovenia may have good grounds to question this.
I have no idea what the fuck that even means, really. That “they” is comically vague. Whatever, I’m going to take it as England first, USA second. I’m going to write more about the US later, so I’ll withold my assessment.
Group D: GS pusses out and says Germany definitely first, but any of the other 3 could finish second! Gack.
Group E: Netherlands first, Denmark second. (Agree)
Group F: Italy first, Slovakia second. (I’m at Italy first, Paraguay second)
Group G: Brazil first, Portugal second. (Until Drogba got hurt, I would’ve disagreed. Now I agree)
Group H: Spain first, Switzerland second. (Me: Spain first, Chile second)
GS babble on some more, then picks a final four of England, Brazil, Argentina, and Spain.
And chalk up yet another group who hopes to fight the trends of history and picks England to not gack it up.
Good thinking there, guys.

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