It seems as if everyone is jumping on the World Cup 2010 predictions bandwagon. The latest offering comes from UBS Wealth Management Research, which says Brazil will triumph this year in South Africa.
"Our forecast is based on in-depth quantitative analysis that places great emphasis on a country’s previous performance at World Cup tournaments," which is UBS speak for "we looked at past results and decided to plump for the most successful team in World Cup history."
UBS apparently predicted Italy would win the 2006 World Cup. What isn't known is whether they covered their backs four years ago in this fence sitting manner.
“Germany and defending champions Italy, as multiple world champions, are the two teams alongside record-holders Brazil that are most likely to win the tournament.”
Of course UBS Chief Economist Andreas Hoefert, the architect of this so-called "model", is wise enough to know there is a limit to this forecasting game.
"Successful predictions owe at least as much to luck as to expert knowledge," said Hoefert as he put on a coat made entirely from natural caveats.
One person who could do with a similar garment is Metin Tolan, the University of Dortmund physics professor who recently unveiled his mathematical formula which, he claims, shows Germany will win in South Africa.
Unfortunately for Tolan, he predicted Germany would win in 2006, which doesn't say much for his formula.
It may actually be more instructive to consider Germany as likely finalists rather than the winners. Of seven finals since 1954, Germany has lost five, whereas Brazil has lost only two out of seven finals since 1950.
Neither Hoefert nor Tolan mentions Spain or England. If you feed the word “Spain” into any World Cup model or formula, the answer is the same every time: chokers. England haven’t done much better since you know when. Will 2010 be any different?