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It's a hard life being a research analyst for an investment bank: you start work at the crack of dawn and then spend all day glued to a screen trying to pick winners from a dizzying array of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments that, frankly, no one really understands. And then they expect you to go out and find the winner of the World Cup.
Yes, just to prove they are occasionally allowed to have a bit of fun, the big banks have been falling over themselves to offer up their predictions for the winner of the World Cup. But, bankers being bankers, they haven't done it by considering the relevant merits of Kaká, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres or even Wayne Rooney. No, in true banker style, they've applied sophisticated algorithms, quantitative sampling techniques and other mathematical wizardry to predict the winner.
And their conclusions? Well, all that blood, sweat and tears has produced the startlingly unoriginal conclusion that the winners will, of course, be Brazil. Danske Bank (DNSKY) and Evolution Group (EVLGF) were the most recent analysts to step up and take the spot-kick, as it were, with both of them picking the boys in canary yellow.
Danske has the economic Pigs (represented in the tournament by Spain, Portugal and Italy) beating up on each other before the latter are knocked out by Germany. Danske expects England's traditional nemesis to fall to Brazil in the final because, it says, "as in real life, the emerging market nation will beat the developed nation."
Evolution came up with the same winner (via a different method), as did UBS (UBS), which reckons that Italy, Spain and Brazil are the three teams with the best chances, with the latter top of the tree.
Goldman Sachs (GS), of course, has not picked a winner but has simply gone for four semi-finalists: England, Argentina, Brazil and Spain. That's hardly surprising, given how fond Goldman is of being on the winning side whatever the outcome.
JPMorgan (JPM) proved to be the outlier. Its number-crunchers used the sort of quantitative mathematical models usually employed to pick stocks to reveal that the winners will be...drum roll, please...England, whom they think will beat Spain in the final. The Netherlands are forecast to come in third.
What this says about JPMorgan's stock-picking model really rather depends on which part of the UK you come from and whether you are an optimist, or a realist.
from London, for Independent minds