Germany most likely to win World Cup: UBS

Host nation Russia are in the World Cup's weakest group and are expected to progress to the round of 16, where they are likely to lose to Spain or Portugal, noted UBS.
Host nation Russia are in the World Cup's weakest group and are expected to progress to the round of 16, where they are likely to lose to Spain or Portugal, noted UBS. PHOTO: REUTERS

It analyses teams' chances, says investors can learn from successful football sides

It will not come as any surprise to football fans, but Germany has the best chance of winning the World Cup this year, while Brazil and Spain are also in with a good chance.

That is the outcome of the number-crunching from economic forecasters at Swiss banking giant UBS Global Wealth Management, who take a break from investment models and turn their attention to the Cup every four years.

UBS Global Wealth Management's chief investment office analyses each team's likelihood of doing well at the event's different stages. Chief investment officer Mark Haefele said: "No matter whether they are analysing global markets or soccer tournaments, people tend to be biased towards local favourites."

UBS looked at how well a team has played in the past, with victories against stronger sides improving the rating more than wins over weaker opponents. Similarly, more important matches count more than friendly games.

Host nation Russia are in the Cup's weakest group and are expected to progress to the round of 16, where they are likely to lose to Spain or Portugal, noted the bank.

Economically, Russia's estimated spending on the tournament of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product is not expected to boost the nation's economy in a significant way.

While reputational gains are difficult to quantify, UBS expects only a minor uptick in tourism for Russia as a travel destination.

However, the estimated US$12 billion (S$16.1 billion) spent on infrastructure and related projects in preparation of the event might generate greater economic benefits in Russia compared with hosts in more developed economies like Spain, Italy or France.

Mr Michael Bolliger, UBS' head of emerging markets asset allocation and lead author of the World Cup study, said: "Investors can learn a lot from successful football teams. Seeking agility, building a diversified portfolio of talent and remaining calm under pressure are virtues exemplified by successful football teams and investors alike."

Agile teams can adjust their play to different opponents. Investors should therefore consider alternative assets and be more nimble in adjusting their allocation.

Another factor is balance. A successful team needs top players in all positions. When it comes to investments, holding a diversified portfolio of assets is incredibly important.

Global business cycle dynamics as much as idiosyncratic events can trigger losses.

Pairing traditional and non-traditional assets, and risky stocks and defensive bonds, as well as allocating across regions are crucial in making portfolios profitable in good times and to preserving gains during downturns.

The third is calm. Even the most experienced teams risk discarding their game plan when time is running out.

Investment decisions are similar. The recent flare-up of geopolitical tensions, the rising threat of a global trade war and concerns about a sell-off in global bond markets are some examples of uncertainty.

Being able to distinguish between deteriorating fundamentals and softer growth on the one hand, and the daily noise on the other, is crucial.

Deteriorating fundamentals is a reason to reallocate a portfolio but the daily noise is an opportunity to take profit on a hedge or to double down on an existing position.

And having a proven investment process at hand and the ability to stay focused on the investment objectives can deliver a big difference for an investor's long-term ability to optimise returns.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2018, with the headline 'Germany most likely to win World Cup: UBS'. Print Edition | Subscribe