Group B; game 1 ARG vs NIG 4-0
The first match is one between two strong football nations. Argentina, coached by former world star Diego Maradona, is always a candidate for the title and the great play by Inter striker Diego Milito in the final of the Champions League against Bayern Munich does make the country - also home of world star Lionel Messi - an even bigger candidate in the real World Cup next month. How about our Alternative Tournament? Nigeria has always been one of the stronger representatives of Africa. But often the biggest problem of the country was management. It consists of a large group of legionnaires, players playing abroad and somehow - unlike the Argentinians, their opponents for today - coaches and the Nigerian Football Association - have never been capable of transforming the strong group into a real team.
Now with Messi AND Milito (see picture):
ARG a strong candidate for a place in the semi-finals or even more?
We look at four factors for this match. One of them is football related, namely the historical performance of a country in the World Cup. The other three factors are: a) Geography and Natural Resources; b) the Economic Situation; and c) Communications.
The football related factor has double weighting. And that automatically implies that Argentina takes a 2-0 lead. The former winner of the cup are one of the 4-5 main candidates for the title also based on their historical performance.
Geography and Natural Resources. ARG has a total surface of 2.8 billion sq km, which makes it the eighth largest country in the world. The fertile pampas provide the country with great arable land with a total size of about 280m sq km. The country is also a champion in setting voluntary targets for environmental greenhouse gas-related problems. In terms of other natural resources the Argentinians have lead, zinc, tin, copper, iron ore, manganese and petroleum. All in all it is remarkable that various political leaderships have not been able to get the country back in shape. After all ARG was an economic gemstone bigger than the US (!!) back in the 1800s. But recently MSCI even removed the country from its MSCI Emerging Markets index putting it back in the Frontier Index, and that is where Nigeria is as well.
NIG is also a big country (nr 32 in the world) with a total surface of 923.8 million sq km, but therefore much smaller than ARG. But with one third of that surface being arable, the net difference in that respect is marginable. On the contrary, potentially NIG might have more land available! ARG lost a lot of land because of the mountainous areas in the North and North West and the barren southern areas of the country. With its natural gas, petroleum, zinc, coal, iron ore, limestone and lead resources NIG is also not doing bad in natural resources either.
Therefore: no clear winner in terms of the factor Geography.
ARG maintains a 2-0 lead.
Next, the economic situation. We look at 5 factors there: 1) GDP; 2) GDP per capita; 3) Economic Growth; 4) Public Debt and 5) the Current Account Situation.
Oil-rich Nigeria has a GDP of USD 167.4 billion based on official exchange rates but more than double that amount (USD 357.2 billion) when looking at purchasing power. The population is big and we therefore end up with a GDP per capita of a mere USD 2,400 per inhabitant. A true frontier country. In terms of fighting the Global Crisis the country did a good job: the growth rate remained at the 5 percent level in 2009 after a 6.4 and 5.3 percent rate in 2007 and 2008. It is therefore no surprise that public debt remained very low at 17.8 percent of GDP. However, after a USD 3.9 billion currount account surplus in 2008, the country did feel the problems in the economies of their business partners, falling back to a current account deficit of USD 9.4 billion over 2009.
Now let's see how ARG is doing on Economics. Looking at the official rates the country has a GDP of USD 304.9 billion and in purchasing power terms that translates to USD 558 billion. Further developed than NIG therefore and taking into account the fact that the population is much smaller, GDP per capita for ARG is at USD 13,800. About 5-6 times higher than NIG. So that provides ARG with a clear 2-0 lead on Economics, but when looking at growth rates NIG makes things a bit more exciting again. ARG did really suffer with the Global Crisis. Far more than NIG did and its growth rates dropped to a negative value of -2.5%, although figures over 2008 and 2007 were quite similar to the Nigerian ones. Therefore 2-1.
When looking at Public Debt we see that it is at 49.1 percent in ARG, way higher than in NIG. Therefore a 2-2 situation before we look at the now decisive Current Account Balance. ARG has a nice USD 14.43 billion surplus after a USD 7.1 billion surplus last year. Economics is therefore a 3-2 win for ARG. It is remarkable how mismanagement at the political - especially monetary - level seems to have lead to a situation in which MSCI had to remove ARG from the Emerging Markets index.
Score: ARG 3 NIG 0
Last factor we analyze is Communications. We look at 4 sub-factors here: a) Phone lines (fixed plus variable) relative to population size; b) Radio Stations (the more the better since we see it as a sign of a free country); c) TV Stations (same line of reasoning) and d) Internet hosts and Internet users, again relative to population size.
Let's start with ARG: 56.1 million phones for a total population of 41.3 million implies that most people do indeed have at least one line. Mobile phones are far more popular than fixed line phones though. There are 260 AM Radio Stations and officially 6 shortwave FM stations, but there are probably some 1,000 (!) unofficial FM stations as well. ARG has 42 TV stations. The number of Internet Hosts is 4.9 million and the number of users is 11.2 million.
Now, the comparable figures for NIG. In NIG there are 64.3 million phones which looks better than in ARG but we shouldn't forget that the total population size in NIG is 152.2 million. Therefore less than half per person. ARG wins when it comes to telephones. In terms of radios and tv's ARG increases its win: the number of Radio stations in NIG is 83 for AM, 36 for FM and 11 for short wave. There are only 3 tv stations, of which 2 are under control of the government. With 1.1 million internet hosts and 11 million users we see that figures are similar to the ones for ARG, but obviously generated with an almost 4 times bigger population.
In terms of Communications ARG is further developed.
Therefore: ARG - NIG 4-0. Easier victory than what we can expect in the real Cup next month.
Group B; Game 2 KOR - GRE 2-1
Korea delivered a sensational performance under miracle coach Guus Hiddink back in 2002. The Koreans even renamed one of their national stadiums after the Dutchman. After that they remained a tough squad. Not brilliant but difficult to beat. Greece did have that reputation already in Europe, albeit that normally the clubs are better than the national team due to the availability of strong foreign players. One exception: in 2004 Greece became European football champions. There are still some players from that successful team in the current line up, like striker Charisteas for instance.
GRE and KOR will be analyzed using a 5 non-football factor comparison. Factors analyzed are: 1) Government and Governance; 2) Economics; 3) Communications; 4) Transportation and 5) Influence in World Politics
Greece is a parliamentary democracy consisting of 51 prefectures. The country is independent since 1821 and its constitution has been in place since 1975 with amendments in 1986 and 2001. Roman Law provides a basis for the legal system and the country accepts the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, albeit that there are some reservations to that. Due to the financial problems in the country - with Euro now implying that former ways of solving things by devaluating the Drachme don't work anymore - PM Papandreou has become an international figure. The president is less well known. His role is more or less ceremonial. In the last elections in 2009 Papandreou's PASOK (Socialist Party) got 43.9 percent of the vote. There are several other important parties as well. Democracy is functioning not too bad in the country that basically invented the system. Corruption is still a big problem. With a score of 3.8 on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index the country is on place 71. Very low for a European country. As we stated in an earlier contribution we believe that the relatively large number of prefectures (= decentralization) plays a role in that. It is hard to lead efficiently and avoid misuse of power when splitting it up over so many different bureaucratic levels.
Korea gained independence from Japan in 1945 after WW 2. It is a republic as well, consisting of just 9 provinces. This higher level of centralization translates itself into a far better score on the CPI Index. With a value of 5.5 the country is in the global top-35. Its constitution is in place since the 1980s and the legal system combines elements of European and Anglo-American law while at the same time incorporating elements of Chinese thought. Compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice is not accepted. PM Chung is in power since 2009, just like his Greek counterpart. The parliament seems to run reasonably democratic, albeit that Korea is also famous for the fights between politicians that always go around the world as funny YouTube videos.
We give the win on Government and Governance to Korea. 1-0
Then Economics. This factor consists of 5 sub-factors as we saw in previous matches. Korea has a GDP of USD 809.7 billion translating to USD 1356 billion in purchasing power. Per capita this translates to USD 28,000 making it a big puzzle why South Korea ist still in the list of Emerging Countries. These numbers are almost Developed Nations material! Korea struggled with the Global crisis: economic growth almost came to a standstill with 0.2 percent growth over 2009. In 2008 this was 2.2 percent and in 2007 still 5.1 percent. Public Debt is 28 percent of GDP which is far more reasonable than a lot of other strugglers show. The current account balance gets back on track with a surplus of USD 30.4 billion over 2009 after a small deficit in 2008.
Well, we all know about the economic problems of Greece by now. Is it really that bad? Let's compare with KOR. With a GDP of USD 342.2 billion and a PPP GDP of almost that same size GRE is much smaller than KOR, but it does of course have far less people as well. Translating things into GDP per capita leads to a Greek score of USD 32,100: still slightly better than the Korean number. Economic growth is now negative in the country that is fighting against bankruptcy and public debt is - according to the latest official numbers - at 113.4 percent, but we wouldn't be surprised if the real number is even higher. The current account balance is negative notwithstanding the tourism revenues and that is not just something of the last year.
Therefore: KOR also winner on Economics. 2-0 now.
Then Communications. GRE has 19.7 million phone lines with a total population of 10.7 million people. This translates almost into a situation of one fixed and one cell per person. There are 26 AM, 88 FM and 4 shortwave radio stations and 36 tv stations. With 2.3 million internet hosts and 4.3 million users internet usage seems a bit low for a developed country. Maybe language and the different alphabet are a factor of influence in explaining this. Let's move on to KOR. Korea has 48.6 million people that together have 66.9 million phone lines. That ratio is lower than the Greek one. 1-0 for Greece on the sub-factor phone therefore. But on both Radio and TV Korea translates this back into a lead: Radio scores are 96 AM, 322 FM and 1 shortwave and there are 57 tv operators. But obviously, we also need to take into account that the country has almost 5 times more inhabitants. When looking at the internet situation the number of hosts is relatively low with 301,270 and the number of users is 37.5 million. If anything the situation on Communications when comparing the two countries is unclear, but we decide to give a small victory to Greece when incorporating the difference in size.
GRE-KOR 1-2 after this factor.
Before moving to Transportation as the decisive factor to see if GRE can still reach a draw, we decided to give them a pointless draw on World Politics. Both are relatively small countries. GRE can lobby within Euroland for a bit more power and does know of course get a lot of (negative) attention due to the Euro crisis. Korea is important as partner of the Western world when it comes to controlling North Korea, but other than that the country is not really more than a political follower.
Transportation will decide on GRE's fate. Will they get a draw? Or will KOR achieve a surprise victory? We look at the following 5 factors: 1) Airports with paved runways; 2) Ports; 3) Railways; 4) Waterways and 5) Roads.
Although famous for its shipping tycoons lke Onassis (here with Jacky Kennedy),
GRE didn't outperform KOR convincingly on this factor.
Now Greece. The size of the country is 132,000 sq km, i.e. bigger than Korea. But with far less people: just 10.7 million. GRE has 67 airports with paved runways. Almost the number of KOR which is negative when comparing the size of the country but positive when looking at the number of people. There are 5 ports. I.e. one more which is also more or less in line with the size difference. But as we all know shipping is an important activity in Greece with the fleet being relatively large and often active outside Greece. Ari Onassis was one of the famous Greek Tycoons back in the old days. In terms of waterways in Greece, they are almost negligible. If anything this is a clear victory for KOR. There is also less railway (2548 lm) but the paved roadwork is bigger (107,895 km).
All in all the difference between the two countries on this factor are so small that we decide not to appoint a winner.
That leaves KOR with a 2-1 victory.