And the REAL World Cup Winner is…

IPHWell, surely everybody knows by now – the 2014 World Cup is over, and Germany went home with the trophy.

But there’s another “winner” worth mentioning: Princeton University Press author and London School of Economics professor Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, whose latest book, Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics, garnered some wonderful press over the course of the tournament. Mr. Palacios-Heurta not only received a mention in the Science section of the New York Times and was the subject of a full-length article in strategy+business; he also penned an op-ed for the New York Times’s Sunday Review and was featured in stories in both the Financial Times and Worldcrunch.

Sure, he can’t rally like Ronaldo or kick it like Klose; but this fùtbol fanatic’s research presents advantages that extend far beyond the pitch.

Palacios-Huerta is unique in that he utilizes soccer data to test economic theories. In his op-ed in the Times, Palacios-Huerta lays out the basics of this experiment by explaining its origins in the Nash Equilibrium, which analyzes how people should behave in “strategic situations” and stresses that, in order to “win,” they shouldn’t repeat their choices. He says that, “according to Mr. Nash’s theory, in a zero-sum game (i.e., where a win for one player entails a corresponding loss for the other) the best approach is to vary your moves unpredictably and in such proportions that your probability of winning is the same for each move.”

He chooses penalty kicks to demonstrate this theory because they’re zero-sum games, wherein it’s ill-advised to use a strategy repeatedly. The explanation for this is relatively simple: a player’s shots become predictable if he always kicks to the same side of the net, making them easier to block. A lot of legwork (pun somewhat-intended) has gone into proving this idea: Palacios-Huerta analyzed 9,017 penalty kicks between 1995 and 2012, to find that successful players typically distributed their shots unpredictably and in just the right proportions. We won’t get into the numbers here, but they’re abundant in both the book and the op-ed.


Other research by me and others has shown that data from soccer can shed light on the economics of discrimination, fear, corruption and the dark side of incentives in organizations. In other words, aspects of the beautiful game that are less than beautiful from a fan’s perspective can still be illuminating for economists.”


And penalty kicks are just one handy example. Data from soccer can also illuminate one of the most prominent theories of the stock market: the efficient-market hypothesis, which essentially posits that the market processes economic data so quickly that any news relating to a stock is incorporated into its price before anyone can even act on it, diminishing the risk of insider trading.

We’re excited to see more of what these soccer stats can do to advance economic theory, and more importantly, how Palacios-Huerta can translate something so complicated, using something so, well…beautiful.

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Ignacio Palacios-Huerta is the author of:

BGT Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta
Hardcover | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691144023
224 pp. | 6 x 9 | 30 line illus. | eBook | ISBN: 9781400850310 | Reviews Table of Contents   Introduction[PDF] 

New Economics and Finance Catalog!

We invite you to browse and download our new economics and finance catalog!
http://press.princeton.edu/catalogs/econ13.pdf

Of particular interest are some of our forthcoming titles including Benn Steil’s remarkable The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, Ben S. Bernanke’s insightful The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis, and Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig’s engaging and accessible The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It. Also note Justin Yifu Lin’s The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off. Interwoven with insights, observations, and stories from Lin’s travels as chief economist of the World Bank and his reflections on China’s rise, this book provides a road map and hope for those countries engaged in their own quest for prosperity.

Our catalog also exhibits critical textbooks including David M. Kreps’ rigorous Microeconomic Foundations I: Choice and Competitive Markets, Steven Tadelis’ comprehensive Game Theory: An Introduction, Ariel Rubinstein’s essential second edition Lecture Notes in Microeconomic Theory: The Economic Agent, and Michael Wickens’ superior second edition Macroeconomic Theory: A Dynamic General Equilibrium Approach.

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We’ll see everyone at the meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations January 4-6 in San Diego, CA. Come visit us at booth 308! Be sure to stop by Saturday, January 5 at 1:00 p.m. for a book signing with Justin Yifu Lin, author of The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off.

New and Forthcoming Titles in Economics and Finance

catalog coverAre you at the annual Allied Social Science Associations meeting in Denver this week?  We invite you to check out our new line-up of titles.  You can now find our new 2011 Economics and Finance catalog online at:

http://press.princeton.edu/catalogs/econ11.pdf

You will find books by Raghuram G. Rajan, Max H. Bazerman & Ann E. Tenbrunsel, John Quiggin, Kaushik Basu and Diane Coyle, just to name a few.  And if you’re at ASSA on Saturday, we hope to see you at the Popular Economics panel discussion moderated by Princeton University Press’s Director, Peter J. Dougherty.

Popular Economics Panel with:

Robert Shiller (Yale University)
Robert Frank (Cornell University)
Diane Coyle (Manchester University)
Steve Levitt (University of Chicago)
Panel Moderator: Peter Dougherty (Princeton University Press)

Jan 08, 2011 8:00 a.m., Sheraton, Governor’s Square 15

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