football

Ralph Atkins

Psychological analyses of the German character are the flavour of the week, what with the country’s team doing so well in the football World Cup and the debate rumbling over whether Berlin should stimulate domestic demand in the economy. Is there something that makes Germans naturally better at exporting, but scared of shopping (and capable of beating 4 – nil an Argentinian football team managed by Diego Maradona)?

After living here for a few years, I still believe Germans are not really any different to other nationalities. They are careful with their money, and like it when their national football team wins. But in an article in Foreign Policy, Mark Schieritz, economics correspondent at Die Zeit newspaper, sets out why he thinks his compatriots are intrinsically different. 

The fiscally prudent are still reaping their reward on the football field – among European countries, at least. Down to 52 per cent from 70 per cent last week, the correlation between points and fiscal prudence remains significant. (And if it weren’t for Spain currently beating Honduras 2-0, which I’ve taken as a Spanish victory, we’d be at 59 per cent.)

With Portugal beating North Korea earlier 7-0, the big question of the day is: which country is more saintly, fiscally speaking? 

Has anyone noticed how Europe’s fiscal sinners aren’t faring too well in the World cup, while fiscal saints enjoy a winning streak? Well, a back of the envelope calculation has shown a 70 per cent correlation. By this logic, Estonia should have made it to the final.

Switzerland’s win is best described as reward for prudence, while England’s dismal draw against the US is divine retribution for years of overspending. Who said there was no justice?