Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015: The Semifinals

It has come down to four teams. I pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. And, surprisingly, it's not a bad way to pick winners. If your country is in the semifinals, I have co-authored multiple times with your countrymen...or you're from Japan (see below).

Overall in the women's World Cup, my decision rule has picked 24 winners and 12 losers. (There have been 48 total matches, but there were 10 ties, which I don't count. Yeah, purists will say I should be able to pick ties, but I think it's already a stretch to use this ridiculous approach to pick winners. There were also 2 matches where neither country had contributed much to my career, so I made no prediction.) While far from perfect, this silly rule does better than one might expect. The reason is a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports (including Soccer) and (2) strong universities. Countries with strong universities are more likely to produce co-authors I end up working with, or simply have the resources to invite me to share my research through presentations or teaching courses.

Here are the predictions for the semifinals (June 30, July 1):

USA v. Germany -- This is the battle of the powerhouses: my top two ranked teams.

I've got a lot to thank Germany for. In addition to sponsored visits to Berlin, Göttingen, Heidelberg, Munich, and Tübingen, I've got 4 German co-authors: Axel Dreher, Martin Gassebner, Michael Lamla, and Stephan Klasen. But for once, the German record cannot compare to that of the opposing team: USA.

No country has done more for my career than the United States. My American co-authors include Raj Desai, Jennifer Gandhi, Jay Goodliffe, Darren Hawkins, Christian Holkeboer, James Hollyer, and Stephen Kosack. The universities I have had direct connections with include: Manhattan College (where I did my undergraduate education), NYU (where I did my PhD), Yale (where, over the course of a decade, I was an assistant and then associate prof), UCLA (where I had the most amazing fellowship ever!), and Georgetown (where I am currently a professor). Plus, I have been invited to present my research at so many other US institutions, including Binghamton University, Chicago University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, Notre Dame University, Nova Southeastern University, Ohio State University, Penn State, Pittsburgh University, Princeton University, Tufts University, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UMASS Amherst, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vassar College, and Villanova University. I thank them all so much and will wholeheartedly root for our team to make it to the final. USA! USA!

Japan v. England -- Once again, Soccernomics would pick mighty Japan. Japan's economy is substantially larger than England's. And England isn't doing itself any favors by parochially playing as only one part of the United Kingdom. Even if we added in the economies of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, Japan would still have the edge. This is why it continues to surprise me, year after year, that Japan does nothing for me! No co-authors, no visits. Meantime, look what the English have done... Three English co-authors: Alastair Smith, Matthew Rablen, and Matthew Gould. Plus I've had a visit to Oxford, which has a Blackwell's bookstore -- the only bookstore where I've actually seen my books for sale on the regular shelves! Furthermore, I have tremendous gratitude to the London School of Economics. England has come through for me a lot this World Cup, and I'm sticking with them. Go England!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015: The Quarter Finals

I pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The "Round of 16" was rough for me -- I had 5 correct predictions and 3 incorrect. Usually, my approach does much better thanks to a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports (including Soccer) and (2) strong universities. Countries with strong universities are more likely to produce co-authors I end up working with, or simply have the resources to invite me to share my research through presentations or teaching courses.

Overall in this World Cup, the rule has done fairly well. In the group stage of the Women's World Cup, there were 36 matches total. For two of them, my rule wasn't decisive because neither country had done much of anything to directly impact my career. And then there were 10 ties. (Purists will say that I should be able to predict ties, but I think it's a stretch for my ridiculous approach to even pick winners.) So what about the remaining 24 matches where my decision-rule was decisive? 16 wins, 8 losses. My overall tally is therefore 21 wins, 11 losses. Not bad considering that it's a pretty silly approach.

Now we move into the quarter finals. Here are the upcoming matches (June 26-27):

Germany v. France -- I studied abroad in France and learned the language, but French universities have snubbed me ever since. I don't know what their problem is -- they have a great women's soccer team. Clearly they have the resources to do more for me! Meantime, I've got a lot to thank Germany for. In addition to sponsored visits to Berlin, Göttingen, Heidelberg, Munich, and Tübingen, I've got 4 German co-authors: Axel Dreher, Martin Gassebner, Michael Lamla, and Stephan Klasen. Go Germany!

China v. USA -- I have loved my teaching experiences with Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. But no country has done more for me than the United States. Co-authors Raj Desai, Jennifer Gandhi, Jay Goodliffe, Darren Hawkins, Christian Holkeboer, James Hollyer, and Stephen Kosack. Plus my universities: Manhattan College, NYU, Yale, and Georgetown. USA! USA!

Australia v. Japan -- Soccernomics would pick mighty Japan in this match. Japan's economy is more than triple the size of Australia's. But what has Japan done for me? Not much. No visits, no co-authors. Meanwhile, my friend and colleague Barry Williams hosted my visit to Australia's Bond University. I stay loyal to my friends, even when up against the odds. Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!!!

England v. Canada -- I've got one Canadian co-author, Eric Werker. But I've got three English co-authors: Alastair Smith, Matthew Rablen, and Matthew Gould -- and visits to London School of Economics. England really came through for me last round, defeating Norway. I've got to stay with them again. England!

Friday, June 19, 2015

FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015: Round of 16!

I pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The approach does ok because of a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports (including Soccer) and (2) strong universities. Countries with strong universities are more likely to produce co-authors I end up working with, or simply have the resources to invite me to share my research through presentations or teaching courses.

How does my silly decision rule perform? In the group stage of the Women's World Cup, there were 36 matches total. For two of them, my rule wasn't decisive because neither country had done much of anything to directly impact my career. And then there were 10 ties. (Purists will say that I should be able to predict ties, but I think it's a stretch for my ridiculous approach to even pick winners.) So what about the remaining 24 matches where my decision-rule was decisive? 16 wins, 8 losses. Not bad.

Now we move into the knock-out stage. Here are the matches coming up for the round of 16 (June 20-23):

Germany v. Sweden -- I've got to stick with my German co-authors: Axel Dreher, Martin Gassebner, Michael Lamla, and Stephan Klasen. Germany!

China v. Cameroon -- I have loved my teaching experiences with Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. China!

Brazil v. Australia -- This match is a bit more competitive. My colleague Barry Williams hosted my visit to Australia's Bond University. But Brazil is a powerhouse. I've got my co-author José Cheibub and my co-teacher Fernando Limongi at USP. Brazil!

France v. South Korea -- I studied abroad in France and learned the language, but French universities have snubbed me ever since. I don't know what their problem is -- they have a great women's soccer team. Clearly they have the resources to do more for me! Meantime, I taught for 6 weeks at Korea University's summer campus back in 2009. Then I participated in a major conference sponsored by the Bank of Korea in 2011. I've got to root for Korea!

Canada v. Switzerland -- Oh boy. This one is tough. Switzerland has paid for many trips I've made to ETH Zurich. I even published an article about Switzerland, and so the Swiss press interviews me from time to time. But the co-author rule is supposed to trump everything (except maybe a job offer). And I've got a Canadian co-author, Eric Werker. With many regrets to CH, the rule predicts victory for Canada.

Norway v. England -- Much easier to decide thanks to co-authors Alastair Smith, Matthew Rablen, and Matthew Gould -- and visits to London School of Economics. England!

USA v. Colombia -- USA is all over my CV. Co-authors Raj Desai, Jennifer Gandhi, Jay Goodliffe, Darren Hawkins, Christian Holkeboer, James Hollyer, and Stephen Kosack. Plus my universities: Manhattan College, NYU, Yale, and Georgetown. USA! USA!

Japan v. Netherlands -- Another easy call, thanks to co-author Jan-Egbert Sturm: Netherlands!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 17 edition: FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015

Continuing to pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The approach does ok because of a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports and (2) strong universities.

Here are the June 17 matches:

Mexico v. France -- Loved studying abroad in France in 1992, but what have you done for me lately, France? Mexico had me out for a visit to CIDE in 2005. I'm with Mexico!

England v. Colombia -- Again I'm with my co-authors, Alastair Smith, Matthew Rablen, and Matthew Gould -- and my friends at the London School of Economics. Go England!

Costa Rica v. Brazil -- Co-authoring with Cheibub and co-teaching with Limongi at USP). Brazil!

South Korea v. Spain -- This is a really tough call. I taught for 6 weeks at Korea University's summer campus back in 2009. Then I participated in a major conference sponsored by the Bank of Korea in 2011. But I went to Madrid to teach a short course for Santander in 2010, and I taught at ESADE's Madrid campus in 2012. I've presented my research at Fundación Juan March, Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals, and at ESADE's Barcelona campus. I love you, Korea, but this time I've got to go with Spain.

June 16 edition: FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015

Continuing to pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The approach does ok because of a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports and (2) strong universities.

Here are the June 16 matches:

Ecuador v. Japan -- I can't believe that I'll be with Japan again, since they're such a rich country and have never bothered to invite me for a visit. But Ecuador has done even less for me. I published an article about Japan with Daniel Yew Mao Lim. And my students put me on an excellent panel with scholars of Japan back in 2010. So, I am with Japan again...

Switzerland v. Cameroon -- ETH Zurich has done for me than any university outside of the United States. Hopp Schwiiz!

Nigeria v. USA -- USA! USA!

Australia v. Sweden -- Thanks to my colleague Barry Williams who hosted my visit to Australia's Bond University, this is an easy call. Australia all the way!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June 15 edition: FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015

Continuing to pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The approach does ok because of a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports and (2) strong universities.

How has my ridiculous approach to picking teams performed? There have been 24 matches so far. For one of them, I couldn't make a prediction (neither Cameroon nor Ecuador has done much of anything for my career...yet!). Seven of them ended in a tie (purists will say that I should be able to predict ties... but, com'on, I'm already stretching with this silly approach to predict winners). How about the remaining 16 matches where my decision-rule and the outcome were decisive? I've got 11 wins and 5 losses.

Here are the June 15 matches:

Thailand v. Germany -- With my co-authors as usual, Dreher, Gassebner, Lamla, and Klasen: Germany!

Côte d’Ivoire v. Norway -- Tough call. No visits or co-authors from either country. I've got my former student Nathaniel Cogley teaching at Ivory Coast's International University of Grand Bassam. But the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) has done a lot to promote my research. I'm going to have to stay neutral on this one.

Netherlands v. Canada -- I've got co-authors from both countries: Eric Werker and Jan-Egbert Sturm. But only one article published in Economic Development and Cultural Change with Werker. I've got three articles with Sturm published in Journal of Development Economics, European Economic Review, and Journal of Conflict Resolution. I'm with the Dutch again. Go Orange!

China v. New Zealand -- I have loved my teaching experiences with Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. Happy to be with China!

(By the way, research shows that home field advantage matters in international competitions, so I am worried about my Dutch pick over Canada. But I gotta stick to my career strategy!)

Friday, June 12, 2015

June 13 edition: FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015

Continuing to pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The approach does ok because of a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports and (2) strong universities.

Here are the June 13 matches:

France v. Colombia -- Dear Colombian friends, France has done nothing for me since I studied abroad there in 1992. So you had more than 2 decades to invite me for a visit. And yet, nothing. Vive la France!

Brazil v. Spain -- I've got strong ties to Spain's ESADE, thanks to the joint GEMBA program with Georgetown. But that doesn't compare with Brazil's contributions in the embodiment of my co-author José Cheibub and my co-professor Fernando Limongi (teaching with him at USP). Brazil!

England v. Mexico -- I really appreciate Mexico for inviting me to present my research at CIDE. But England has done so much for me -- co-authors Alastair Smith, Matthew Rablen, and Matthew Gould -- and visits to London School of Economics. England!

South Korea v. Costa Rica -- I continue to have loads of Global KU Frontier Spirit thanks to my teaching experience at Korea University's summer campus. Korea!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June 12 edition: FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015

Continuing to pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The approach does ok because of a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports and (2) strong universities.

Here are the June 12 matches:

Australia v. Nigeria -- A big thank you to my colleague Barry Williams who hosted my visit to Australia's Bond University. Australia all the way!

Switzerland v. Ecuador -- A big thank you to ETH Zurich. Switzerland all the way!

USA v. Sweden -- USA! USA!

Japan v. Cameroon -- I'm still waiting for my invitation to visit Japan. I even published an article about the country with Daniel Yew Mao Lim. And my students put me on an excellent panel with scholars of Japan back in 2011. So, I am with Japan (but only barely).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June 11 edition: FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015

Continuing to pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The approach does ok because of a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports and (2) strong universities.

How has my ridiculous approach to picking teams performed? There have been 12 matches so far. For one of them, I couldn't make a prediction (neither Cameroon nor Ecuador has done much of anything for my career...yet!). Three of them ended in a tie (purists will say that I should be able to predict ties... but, com'on, I'm already stretching with this silly approach to predict winners). How about the remaining 8 matches where my decision-rule and the outcome were decisive? I've got 6 wins and 2 losses. Not bad.

Let's see how things go with the remaining 24 matches of the group stage... Here are the predictions for the upcoming June 11 matches:

Germany v. Norway -- I'm with my co-authors, Dreher, Gassebner, Lamla, and Klasen: Germany!

China v. Netherlands -- I have loved my teaching experiences with Peking University's Guanghua School of Management, but I've got to stick with my Dutch co-author Jan-Egbert Sturm: Netherlands!

Côte d’Ivoire v. Thailand -- I don't have close ties to either country, but my great student and friend, Nathaniel Cogley, is a Professor of Political Science at Ivory Coast's International University of Grand Bassam. Côte d’Ivoire!

Canada v. New Zealand -- I'm with my Canadian co-author, Eric Werker: O Canada!

Monday, June 8, 2015

June 9 edition: FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015

Continuing to pick World Cup matches according to what the countries have done for my career as a scholar. The approach does ok because of a spurious correlation: populous & rich countries are likely to have both (1) good performances in international sports and (2) strong universities.

Here are the June 9 matches:

France v. England -- I studied abroad in France and learned the language. And yet the French universities have snubbed me ever since. I wish the Brits would get over their parochialism and play as a unified country. But England still has done plenty for me, between my co-author Alastair Smith and my wonderful visits to the excellent London School of Economics. Go England!

Spain v. Costa Rica -- I've got strong connections to Spain's ESADE, thanks to the joint GEMBA program with Georgetown. I'm with Spain!

Colombia v. Mexico -- Thanks to my friend Covadonga Meseguer, I had the wonderful opportunity to give a talk at Mexico's CIDE. I'm with Mexico!

Brazil v. South Korea -- Loved teaching at Korea University's summer campus back in 2009. But between my co-author José Cheibub and my co-teaching with Fernando Limongi at USP, Brazil has done way more for my career. Brazil!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015

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!


June 6:

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)


June 7:
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)

Germany v. Cote d'Ivoire. Thanks to Axel Dreher, Martin Gassebner, Michael Lamla, and Stephan Klasen, I'm with Germany a lot. (And they crushed: 10-0!).


Now for tomorrow's matches:

June 8:
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.)