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June 12, 2014

Goldman's top minds tackle the World Cup

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Talk about timely....

Below, excerpts from a June 5 Bloomberg Businessweek story.

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As chief global equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, Peter Oppenheimer typically meets with central bankers, government officials, and other financial luminaries. A May 8 sitdown was considerably more enjoyable: Oppenheimer interviewed four Brazilian soccer stars for a special Goldman report on the World Cup, a quadrennial publication eagerly anticipated by clients and bank employees alike as a break from the usual econometric fare.

"I explained to them that I wasn't from a normal press outlet. I work for a bank, doing research, looking at the connectivity between markets and football," Oppenheimer says of his chat with the athletes known as Ramires, Oscar, Willian, and David Luiz. A snapshot in the report shows David Luiz, the Brazilian vice captain, with his arm around the suited, beaming banker.

The 2014 report, the fifth Goldman has released, weighs in at a substantial 67 pages. Published on May 27, The World Cup and Economics 2014 is partly tongue-in-cheek, partly rigorous, and entirely entertaining to Goldman’s international clientele. There's a "stochastic model" that predicts the final score of all 64 World Cup matches, based on a data set of all international play since 1960, as well as analyses of the athletic and economic strength of each country — mixing observations about Croatia’s hard currency debt liabilities and superstar Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Goldman rates host nation Brazil as the heavy favorite with a 48.5 percent chance. It says it will beat Argentina 3 to 1 in the final on July 13.

Most Goldman research publications are available only to paying clients. The World Cup report is posted as a free download online. "I can tell you that nothing, absolutely nothing that we write over four years gets as much attention and exposure as this publication," says Alberto Ramos, the bank's head of Latin American economic research, who wrote profiles of Mexico and Brazil.

The treatise is especially popular abroad, Hatzius says. "In Latin America, of course, it's huge," he says. "The main Brazilian evening news had a two-minute segment, which is a little scary, frankly, because now we feel like we're on the hook if Brazil ends up not winning this thing. I worry about my next trip down there." Some concern is warranted — Goldman has so far gone 0 for 4 predicting the champion.

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To reiterate, the report is free (the way we like it).

June 12, 2014 at 08:01 PM | Permalink


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