It is Time for the World Cup to Begin: My Picks…

For the next month, the global financial markets will take a back seat while many American trading desk monitors test their green hues. Knowing where adjusted interests will be focused, we have decided to join along with our own World Cup Challenge. If you entered and win, you will receive a team jersey of your choice (and if you haven’t seen it, the Nigerian jersey is hot). While I won’t be able to win a jersey, I picked my own winners. Here is how I decided them…

 

Teams that will be closely watched but who won’t make it to the Semifinals:

England
Should finish second to Belgium in the group stage. Then would have to get through Poland or Columbia and then Germany. While I would like to see the host of the Premier League advance to the final four (or semifinals), solving Brexit would probably be easier than beating Germany on the soccer field.

Argentina
Did you miss the NBA playoffs? Just like basketball, an MVP cannot carry a team for the whole month. Messi is incredible, but Pope Francis will need to work overtime to get Argentina into the finals.

Brazil
Have you seen what is happening to the country? How can any domestic player or coach focus on the game when so much is happening off the field? They will win their group then probably will play Mexico until they run into Belgium. Sorry Goldman Sachs, but this is where your bracket ends.

My Final Four:

Spain
A well stocked team with the best goalie in the tournament that will go over Portugal and through Argentina.

Belgium
The Red Devils will win the stage over England, go through Columbia or Poland and then beat Brazil.

France
Giroud, Griezmann, Pogba and Mbappe. Les Bleus will win their group, beat Uruguay and Belgium to make it to the Final match.

Final winner:

Germany
Only a miraculous scoring machine will be able to keep Germany from reaching the final game. While I will be wearing my French National Team jersey and cheering for Les Bleus, just like investing, I will need to set my personal bias aside because the Mannschaft will be very difficult to beat.

 

Now for the Tie Breaker:
For our challenge’s tie breaker, you had to correctly pick the local market that will have the largest cumulative gain during the World Cup. This has proved interesting given the strength in the U.S. Dollar in 2018 and its impact on many of the Emerging Markets that are participating in the World Cup. After looking through all of the participating teams’ stock index performances, here were, what I felt, the most interesting markets to choose from:

South Korea
There was the potential for an upward move off of the Singapore Summit. But the meeting came and went and no one really cared in the financial markets. So no interest now.

Mexico
If you think sentiment on NAFTA will reverse course in 30 days, then Mexico is your best bet. But I don’t see that happening.

Brazil
So if you were a reversion to the mean or short-term counter trend investor, you would likely pick Brazil given its sharp 15% decline in the last month. Of course, you will likely need a political catalyst to rebound confidence in the Real and equities.

Saudi Arabia
If you wanted to make a bet on the price of crude oil going higher, you might look to pick the Saudi Arabian market given its economic tie to energy. Plus, the positive effect of its market and economy becoming more open and transparent. Russia and Nigeria can also be oil plays, but Saudi Arabia is a better one.

Uruguay
The stock market is up nearly 40% year to date. Likely benefiting from its more safe haven status in Latin America while other countries are seeing pressures. For a trending investor, this could be a solid pick.

European Markets
Most of the European stock markets are in downtrends, or just not dynamic enough for a four-week contest. Brexit progress is not enough to help England. And Italy which could be interesting is not an option since their team did not make the World Cup.

My favorite choice = Panama
If you are a die hard trend investor, like myself, then Panama is your top choice. Think global trade and a beneficiary of a strong U.S. Dollar. The stock market has done well in both the short term and in the long term. It is a perfect market for today’s trying times and brings back musical memories from my high school years.

Read more from Blaine Rollins in the latest Weekly Research Briefing >

Follow us on Twitter for our updates and commentary throughout the 2018 World Cup >