Tag Archives: Russia

Forecasting 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia

This a short post to share my forecast for the coming football 2018 FIFA World Cup to be played during the following five weeks in Russia.

As I introduced in a similar post four years ago for the 2014 World Cup (here), I have a work colleague who not only is a tremendous aircraft salesman but also has a great sense of humor and manages in his free time late in the night to set up a contest for office staff to try to guess winners, matches’ scores, top scorers, etc., of major international soccer competitions. The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, which will start this week, could not be missed. Nacho managed to set up the contest in time.

I have approached the game of forecasting this World Cup with the same method as previous times, as I have not watched a single match of national teams’ football since the previous World Cup and I have no clue of who is who and how they come to the competition. I have relied on ESPN rankings, and used its offensive and defensive coefficients to build with a simple algorithm all the scores of the competition:

  • taking into account the coefficients of both sides
  • when the difference between them was narrow, I put a draw, if resulting coefficients were high 2-2, if low, 0-0.
  • the same for victories, if the difference was high 3-0, if small and low coefficients, 1-0.
  • I also checked the numbers that different scores were repeated in the group phase in the previous two World Cups, as the most repeated ones are 2-1, 1-0, 0-0, in order to assign them in similar proportion.
  • I also checked the amounts of goals scored in the group phase of previous 2 World Cups (100 and 136 goals), to adjust the overall number of goals I would distribute.
  • Checked the goals the previous top scorers managed in World Cups to a assign a similar number.

What did I forecast?

  • A World Cup won by Brazil against Spain in the final in the penalty shootout.
  • An oddity: the algorithm provided that Spain would face 3 shootouts in this World Cup, we will see.
  • The forecast also provided that England would beat Colombia in a shootout, that may be even odder, given the historical bad luck of England at shootouts.
  • As top scorer I put Neymar (Brazil) with 6 goals.
Forecast_world_cup_2018

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia forecast.

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Looking at History through US Foreign Military Sales

If an alien came to Earth and had to quickly make sense of the last half century of History, he could get a first glimpse of geographical hot spots and changes of regime by looking at US Foreign Military Sales program data (please refer to my previous post for an explanation of the program and sources of data).

For example, take the figure below. It shows the historical data of FMS deliveries (in thousands of $) from 1970 to 2010. As you can see deliveries stopped in 1980. What is even more telling, in the 4 years to 1979 (from 1976-79) the arms sales delivered to this country represented a whole 34% of the complete US FMS program over that period (see the total volume of deliveries in this graphic from a previous post). Which country do you think it coud be?

Which country could this be?

This alien, combining these data would know that something that happened in that country, from representing a third of military sales to not taking part in the program ever again… you may have guessed right: Iran, where the Islamic Revolution started in 1978, the Shah left the country in 1979 and at the end of that year the hostage crisis started.

Having taken a look at the graphic of Iran, find below the one for Iraq:

 

In the graphic you can see that from 1970 to 2005 there were not FMS agreements and deliveries from 2006. Nevertheless you can see that during the 1970’s and 1980’s there were commercial arms sales to Iraq from American contractors (this is also published by DSCA), which deliveries stopped altogether in 1990 (invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and subsequent first Gulf war). Then, once the second Gulf war had changed the regime, commercial and FMS sales restarted from 2003.

There are plenty of cases to look at: Cuba not forming part of FMS since before 1970, Russia neither (though receiving commercial arms since 1992), Spain having been always part of FMS program (including during dictator Franco’s time) but which agreements surged in 1982 with the order of 72 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 fighters (the same year in which it joined NATO), Chile, Venezuela, China

Russia: never part of FMS.

Before concluding this post let me show again the distribution of FMS deliveries during the last 60 years per region (shown in the previous post) and a table with the main receivers in each region:

FMS Sales per region (1950-2010, source: DSCA).

FMS Agreements per region and selected countries (1950-2010, in k$ – source: DSCA).

Which have been then the top receivers of FMS Arms sales agreements in the period 1950-2010? In order:

  1. Saudi Arabia (16.9% of global FMS program)
  2. Egypt (7.3%)
  3. Israel (7.1%)
  4. Australia (4.1%)
  5. Korea (South) (4.0%)
  6. United Kingdom (4.0%)
  7. Turkey (4.0%)
  8. Japan (3.7%)
  9. Germany (3.3%)
  10. Greece (2.7%)

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World War III

Beginning of June I bought at Schiphol airport the book “The Next 100 Years; A Forecast for the 21st Century”, by George Friedman (author of “America’s Secret War”). I receive sometimes at the job reports and articles by Stratfor, the intelligence and forecasting firm that George Friedman founded. This was one of the reasons that raised my attention, the other were the headlines that could be read in the front page “2020: China Fragments”, “2050: Global war”…

Cover of "The Next 100 Years".

Friedman’s book tells us that when thinking about geopolitics we should be aware of:

  • Experience tells us that we should expect the unexpected.
  • We should not be confused by passing chaos and cyclical crisis.
  • Humans and countries are not that free when taking decisions, but they see limited their options by several constrains. He goes looking for such constrains.

If he had written the book in 1900 he would have pinpointed the following three things as defining for the century:

  • Collapse of European Imperial System
  • Quadrupling of World’s population
  • Revolution in transportation & communications.

Now, at the beginning of the XXI century he guesses the three defining issues will be:

  • The rise of American power
  • The end of the population explosion
  • The development of technologies to deal with a declining population.

You may wonder “the rise of American power?”, yes he makes the case that North American power has just started and it’s here to last: technology, economic power, control of the World’s seas (US Navy), military power, access to both Atlantic and Pacific oceans…

As he says, the USA “had the ultimate aim of preventing any major power in Eurasia. The paradox, however, is as follows: the goal of these interventions was never to achieve something –whatever the political rhetoric might have said- but to prevent something. […] Its goal was not to stabilize but to destabilize. […] The USA has no interest in winning a war outright.”

With this in mind, he explores what may happen in the next hundred years: Russia trying to reassert  itself, China fragmenting, Poland, Turkey & Japan as rising powers, some of them starting a global war, space-based power generation, Mexico challenging the US…

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