Thank Fathom it's Friday

The football fan’s guide to the G20 summit

30 November 2018|

A sideways look at economics

To the average punter, the G20 summit, which kicks off in Argentina today, sounds like a tedious and boring affair. I’m not saying that it isn’t but, with the leaders of the 20 most economically and politically powerful countries meeting in one place, it is a significant event. Deals will be made, treaties signed and the global agenda set. Yet from the outside, the conference might still seem a bit dull. To make it more interesting, and to help our clients understand* what’s going on, in this TFiF, I compare the leader of each G20 nation to a football coach. As is often the case for our Friday afternoon blog posts, this is intended to be light-hearted and fun: I don’t actually think that any of this is true, whatsoever. Unless, of course, it is, although I will be unable to confirm that.

Mauricio Macri (Argentina) — Jorge Sampaoli (ex-Argentina)
The fans loved them when they first took charge, but things started going pear-shaped quite quickly. Sampaoli’s handling of Messi at the World Cup has been compared to Mr Macri’s decision to issue a large amount of debt denominated in US dollars.

Scott Morrison (Australia) — Claude Puel (Leicester City)
The country’s economy, like the football team’s squad, is in decent shape. But neither leader can take much credit for that. Nobody on the outside really knows who they are.

Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil) — Sam Allardyce (ex-England)
It seems odd to compare Sam Allardyce, a guy known for boring football, to the incoming President of Brazil, a country whose beautiful, eye-catching style of play came to be known as the beautiful game. But when things get bad, some people think a hard man is needed to fix the problem. Allardyce will keep your team in the Premier League, but stamping out corruption, cutting the crime rate and stimulating a flagging economy is another thing altogether.

Justin Trudeau (Canada) — Roberto Martinez (Belgium)
Great guys. Fantastic dress sense. And some impressive achievements. But not everyone is happy about their open-door policies: Trudeau on immigration and Martinez on defence.

Xi Jinping (China) — Joachim Löw (Germany)
Both men have been in their jobs for a long time and can point to some impressive achievements. But will they overstay their welcome? My money is on the former sticking around longer than the latter.

Donald Tusk (European Union) — Rafa Benítez (Newcastle)
In that strange position of being really comfortable in the job, yet faced with a thankless task.

Emmanuel Macron (France) — André Villas Boas (ex-Zenit Saint Petersburg)
Slick, suave and talk a great game. But what have they actually achieved?

Angela Merkel (Germany) —Arsène Wenger  (ex-Arsenal)
A true European stateswoman and the manager of a football team. No comparison. Duh. Both earned widespread respect for their work, but the magic seemed to fizzle out in recent years.

Narendra Modi (India) — Kenny Dalglish (ex-Liverpool)
I was down the local pub the other week and heard a man compare Mr Modi’s banknote demonetisation plan to the signing of Andy Carroll for £35 million.

Joko Widodo (Indonesia) — Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham)
The fortunes of the rupiah and Indonesian government bonds have been a bit like West Ham’s form this season.

Giuseppe Conte (Italy) — Avram Grant (ex-Chelsea)
Has a very important job. But he’s clearly not calling the shots and nobody knew who he was before he got the job.

Shinzo Abe (Japan) — Gareth Southgate (England)
I seem to recall Mr Abe wearing a waistcoat when he visited India.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Mexico) — Ryan Giggs (Wales)
Left wing.

Vladimir Putin (Russia) — Roy Keane (ex-Sunderland)
Does this need an explanation?

Mohammed bin Salman (Saudi Arabia) — Maradona (ex-Argentina)
Temperament has been questioned. They also use a similar technique when responding to difficult questions, as highlighted by Maradona’s recent interview with a Mexican TV channel.

Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa) — Marco Silva (Everton)
Highly-rated but has a job on his hands to clean up the mess left by his predecessor.

Moon Jae-in (South Korea) — Claudio Ranieri (Fulham)
Convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme would be an even more impressive achievement than winning the Premier League with Leicester City.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey) — Fabio Capello (ex-Real Madrid)
Thwarted a dressing room rebellion.

Theresa May (UK) — Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace and ex-England)
Most people grow up dreaming of becoming the Prime Minister or the manager of Crystal Palace. But this may be starting to change given the well-publicised challenges facing both in their respected roles. Brexit negotiations have been compared to England’s 2014 World Cup campaign.

Donald Trump (US) — José Mourinho (Manchester United)
Their detractors claim that both men take a short-term approach to management, with some suggesting that a multi trillion-dollar tax cut is the political equivalent of paying Alexis Sanchez £500k a week. Both men have been known to get into rows with journalists, but their fans still love them. The US President will hope to avoid the football coach’s well-known third season syndrome.


* Surely “to help distract our clients from what is going on”? —Ed.


This post is part of our Thank Fathom its Friday blog, in which we take a sideways, often light-hearted, look at economics. On a more serious note, Fathom provides a range of economic research and consultancy services, including economic forecasts, risk assessment, macroeconomic analysis and bespoke consultancy. For more information take a look at the rest of our website or contact

Thank Fathom it's Friday

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