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Macquarie vs. Goldman Sachs vs. ING: Which has best World Cup prediction?

(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Wall Street firms have been busting out their calculators to come up with data-driven predictions as to who will win the World Cup. Like all research notes that come from these sell-side banks, their predictions are backed by research, methodology, commentary and objective analysis.

A breakdown of how each of three banks arrived at their winners:

REGRESSION ANALYSIS: BRAZIL

Two weeks ago, Goldman Sachs went with the tried-and-tested approach of regression analysis to come up with its prediction.

The bank gathered data from “the entire history of mandatory international football matches,” meaning its regression was based on 14,000 previous international matches. The model included the result and number of goals scored by each side.

Yet, as we are constantly told when pitched any sort of investment advice, past performance is not always a true indicator of future results.

The flaw in this sort of analysis, as Goldman points out, is that the model “does not use any information on the quality of teams or individual players not reflected in a team’s track record.”

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

MARKET VALUE: SPAIN

ING Group followed Goldman with its World Cup prediction and chose a different approach that does incorporate quality of players through a market value model.

ING tallied the market value (e.g. transfer fees, salaries) of each player to arrive at a market value for each national team in the tournament.

Based on this analysis, Spain topped the charts at €675 million, followed by Germany at €609 million and Brazil at €507 million.

Choosing Spain is ironic considering Spain beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final in 2010. ING is a Dutch bank with international operations headquartered in Amsterdam.

Spain’s road to the title became all the more difficult after the 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Dutch in this year’s opening match.

QUANT-HEAVY: GERMANY

Most recently, Macquarie entered the fray and went all out in its analysis to build a model so complex it makes the predictions of the previous banks look elementary.

Macquarie’s dizzying model:

Photo Credit: Macquarie Capital

While Spain and Brazil scored high marks in the model’s rankings, it was Germany that Macquarie predicts will emerge as the World Cup winner.

WHICH MODEL CAN WE TRUST?

By having some fun with the World Cup, the banks surely generated positive marketing for their businesses by engaging with the public.

But if I put my money down, I’d go with the institution that does this sort of thing for a living. This, of course, would be Las Vegas, which has Brazil topping the charts at 3/1 odds, according to VegasInsider.com.

Unlike Goldman, ING and Macquarie, we don’t know exactly what’s behind the Vegas Model, but from my experience, it’s never wise to bet against the house.

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