Economists are often accused of imperialism - economics can be applied to everything. The Nobel prize-winner Gary Becker, who passed away recently, was renowned for applying economics to things such as crime and the family. Economists have even applied their insights to football (or soccer) - see, for example, the Soccernomics blog and the Soccernomics book. PwC and Goldman Sachs have recently produced reports on who they think will win the World Cup - their reports are available here and here. PwC thinks that England will do well to progress from the 'group of death' and that Brazil will win. Goldman Sachs predicts that Brazil will beat Argentina in the final. Unlike the Olympics, GDP is not a good predictor of success at the World Cup. Instead, footballing tradition is a very good predictor of success.
As an undergraduate, I was taught about the failure of Herstatt Bank in 1974 and Herstatt risk. This bank was only the 35th largest bank in Germany at the time so why would anyone be interested in studying its failure? Herstatt failed because of its involvement in risky foreign exchange business. When it closed its doors on 26 June 1974, counterparty banks (mainly in New York) had not received dollars due to them because of time-zone differences - this is known as settlement risk. The cross-jurisdictional implications of its failure resulted in the Bank for International Settlements setting up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Herstatt's failure was a key reason for the establishment of real-time gross settlements systems, which ensures that payments between two banks are executed in real time. The Bank of England's Ben Norman has an interesting post on Herstatt over at the Bank's new blog ( Bank Underground ). As well as giving an excellent overview of