Mussolini, the world cup and financial regulation in Greece

There is a long list of blatantly obvious match fixing scandals during the world cup.  Minor lists of mistakes like the ones compiled for the 2010 games in South Africa pale before them.  Mussolini extended a match’s running time until Italy won!  In fact, I would argue that football is a sport actually designed to encourage match fixing.  After all with such a large playing area, all it takes is a bribe to any one player, anywhere in the field to win.  With only 10 bad runs (ie run to the ball slow enough to let the opponent get there first) any player will be effectively giving the opponents an advantage similar to getting a red card.  The rest of the team will have to work harder, will have to cover the gaps created and sooner or later the opponents will score; especially if they know which player is bribed and have adjusted their strategy.

I try to learn from my mistakes.  My tenure at PublicWorld taught me a lot about the corporate world.   I welcomed the opportunity to see the other side of things. As an entrepreneur I always tried to figure out why as customers, large corporations very often ‘acted crazy’.  My contacts would vaguely mention a board meeting, the stock exchange or something similar and we would leave it at that.

But I didn’t spend all that time studying and travelling for nothing.  1200 mainly foreign contacts at LinkedIn are there to teach me stuff!  A lot of reading since and armed with my experience first hand, I kept tab on the company over the past year.   As a learning exercise.  It wasn’t just an ego thing or the curiosity to discover whether my conclusions were more accurate than the managers staying behind.   It became a proper learning exercise.  So when something major happens, like Fnac leaving a market, I decided to revisit in earnest.  Why on earth should Public (a retailer similar to Fnac in many ways) buy two of the three stores Fnac is leaving behind?

While the Obama administration battles to pass it’s second major bill after healthcare on financial regulation, it is obvious that there is long way to go yet.  Not only is the global playing field completely uneven, but there are still huge loopholes.  I received today a copy of the published accounts of PublicWorld.  At the bottom the chartered accountants boldly state:  “Without any further doubt in our opinion you should take special note of the fact that the company’s own assets are now negative and so call for application of article 48 of law 2190/1920.”  This is a clause which specifies that suppliers can demand immediate payment because the company is deemed uncreditworthy.  It is approximately the same as Maradona using his hand to score a goal.  The entire planet sees it, yet not the player, not FIFA or anybody else does anything about it.   The referee is the only one with an excuse as things happen quickly and he honestly might have missed the cunning move.

The media of course do nothing about it.  There seems little demand.  In football the fans want to believe the myth of fair play.   In financial markets, small players who are effectively gambling, want to believe that there is a sense of logic in what they are doing; that it is better than visiting the casino…

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