World Cup 2015 coverage begins now! I'm just back from abroad and so didn't have a chance to post my career-based predictions for the past few days -- so first some catch-up.
If you're new to this, I predict the winners of international competitions based on how much the country has done for my career as a political scientist in academia. Since population size and average income help determine who has the strongest international athletics and the best universities, the decision-rule does ok!
Canada v. China -- easy. Canadian Eric Werker is my co-author. My pick: Canada. (And Canada won 1-0)
New Zealand v. Netherlands -- easy again, thanks to co-author Jan-Egbert Sturm: Netherlands. (And the Dutch won 0-1)
Norway v. Thailand. I don't have co-authors, presentations, or teaching experience in either country. But the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) has done a lot to promote my research. So, another easy call: Norway. (And Norway won 4-0)
Now for tomorrow's matches:
Sweden v. Nigeria -- No co-authors or visits to either country. I did write about Nigeria in my first book on the IMF, but this game is really supposed to be about what the country has done for me, not what I've done about the country. Show me the money! Uppsala University sponsored a wonderful conference I attended at Georgetown in 2008 (when I was still at Yale). So, I've got to go with the Swedes! (I'm sure Anders Olofsgård will agree.)
Cameroon v. Ecuador -- Another pair of countries that haven't produced co-authors for me, invited me to present or to teach. Their universities haven't funded me in any way. In the past, I've made up ad-hoc rules to decide these cases, but those rules never perform as well as my core decision-rule, which -- in the true spirit of FIFA -- is based on the transfer of tangible rewards that I can put in my pocket...uh, I mean...on my CV. I suppose I could start looking at the tuition dollars spent by my students from these countries, but I don't have comprehensive data on this variable. So, I think I should just stay neutral.
USA v. Australia -- I loved my visit to Australia's Bond University, but this isn't even close. USA all the way!
Japan v. Switzerland -- Japan...the reigning champs... but I'm still waiting for an invitation to a Japanese university! And in the meantime, ETH Zurich has done more for me than any university outside of the United States. Hopp Schwiiz!
(By the way, if the above "analysis" seems biased against poor countries -- especially if they are small -- well, yeah, that's exactly the point. International competitions favor rich and powerful. When you see a powerful country like Germany crushing a developing country like Ivory Coast, you should be aware that there are some systematic macro-economic factors that help to explain the performances of the teams. International sports competitions are not just about talent and effort -- they're about advantages and privileges that certain countries enjoy. These privileges translate into lots of different outcomes, from stronger soccer teams to universities that are financially able to invite scholars like me for visits. But rather than get too preachy, I stick to predicting soccer matches based on a ridiculous premise that my career has some kind of connection to the outcomes :-) This ridiculous approach generates discussion from a different angle...often at my expense when my teams occasionally lose ;-) ...this is a price I'm willing to pay to promote dialogue about the international political economy of global athletic competitions.)