Weekly Top 5 Papers – June 20, 2014

1. Tailspotting: Identifying and Profiting from CEO Vacation Trips by David Yermack (New York University (NYU) – Stern School of Business) 2. Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance by Giada Di Stefano (HEC Paris – Strategy & Business Policy) and Francesca Gino (Harvard University – Harvard Business School) and Gary Pisano (Harvard Business School) and Bradley Staats (University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School) 3. Rethinking the FIFA World Cup Final Draw by Julien Guyon (Bloomberg L.P.)

It all started with the ‘potgate’ story: On December 3rd, 2013, FIFA slightly modified the rules of the final draw of the World Cup, and something was clearly wrong with this. I had already noticed that the rules were particularly unfair to some teams like the US and Chile. Now it was even worse: it suddenly became more likely that Italy, the Netherlands, England, Portugal end up in a tough group. The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, and I believe it deserves the utmost level of fairness, in line with its prestige and the fantastic excitement and anticipation that it triggers throughout the world. Yet FIFA was not able to build fair rules for the draw. Someone had to propose a new format, a fairer format. Hiking in Hawaii in December was the perfect opportunity to start investigating how I could combine the principle of geographic separation (the fact that two teams from the same continent cannot be drawn into the same group) with fairness (the fact that no team has more chances than others to end up in a tough group). Long days of hike were not enough and, back in New York, I spent quite a few evenings and weekends trying several rules. After struggling with combinatorics, I was eventually able to find the solutions that I describe in this working paper. (My workdays were fully dedicated to quantitative finance: I was extremely excited by very promising results on path-dependent

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volatility models—this is also on SSRN, by the way.) This working paper got a lot of publicity when I published an op-ed on the subject in The New York Times, Le Monde and So Foot on June 4, 2014, and later in El País on June 16, 2014. Kevin Quealy and Gregor Aisch from The New York Times even built a fantastic page where you can simulate draws, compare the FIFA rules with the proposed method, and visualize what teams were most aggrieved by the official procedure. More and more people recognize the value of quantitative analysis in sports, and I am very curious to see if what happened with finance 25 years ago will now happen with sports. Organize fair competitions, build meaningful rankings, improve predicting models, deepen the analysis of individual and collective performances, study the discrepancies between probabilities implied from the betting market and real-world probabilities: these are just a few examples of what Probability Theory, Statistics and Computer Science can bring to sports. But for now, I am mainly interested in convincing FIFA and the fans that the new rules that I suggest should be adopted for the 2018 World Cup, in hearing FIFA’s position on my proposal… and in enjoying the World Cup games!

4. The Euro Area Crisis: Politics Over Economics by Athanasios Orphanides (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Sloan School of Management) 5. A Brief Introduction to the Basics of Game Theory by Matthew Jackson (Stanford University – Department of Economics)