opinion - Epoch Times | Print Archive


opinion - Epoch Times | Print Archive
Even Soccer Greats Can’t Unravel Messi’s Secret
A4 | JUNE 1117, 2015
By Dr. César Chelala
After the extraordinary performance of Barcelona against
Juventus—where Lionel Messi
was again a key player, we now
know the real truth about Messi.
He not only is the best soccer
player of this era, but probably
of all time.
Although Barcelona fans consider him almost like a god, he
has reached a point in which no
adjectives are enough to describe
him. Is he an extraterrestrial, as
many people call him, or a great
player, or a genius, or what? Jose
Delbo, a noted Argentine artist
and a youthful looking 74-yearold man told me recently, comparing him to Cristiano Ronaldo, “Ronaldo is a great player,
but Messi is a magician.”
How else can one describe
Messi’s performance against
Bayern Munich, when his dribbling was so fast that he left
the German defender Jérôme
Boateng stretched over the soccer field before sending the ball
over Manuel Neuer’s head, arguably the best goalkeeper in the
world, directly inside the net?
As Zito Madu wrote admiringly in SB Nation after that
game, “This Lionel Messi bad-
Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (in dark uniform) runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions
League final football match between Juventus and FC Barcelona at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on
boy phase has gone too damn far
now. First the tax fraud, then the
tattoos, and now the public dismembering of a human being.
Evil Messi does not care for silly
things like human decency. This
is in violation of so many treaties in the Geneva Conventions.”
What can one say about Messi’s performance in the King’s
Cup in Spain when Barcelona
played the final game against
Athletic Bilbao and scored one
of the best goals of all time?
Messi took the ball on the right
flank and dribbled by four
defenders before scoring with a
low shot past Bilbao’s goalkeeper
Iago Herrerin. In the meantime,
those watching the game were
speechless waiting to see what
the end of this brilliant action
would be.
David Konzevik, a famous
Argentine economist and a former soccer player thus explains
Messis’s goal, “Messi’s goal was
more than exciting. One felt that
it was a unique moment, like
Maradona’s goal to the English.
When he started that play, there
was more suspense in the soccer
field than in a Hitchcock’s film.
They were only seconds, but we
were all in suspense waiting for
the outcome. That does not happen with any other player. We
saw the lightning first run and
then came the thunder of the
goal. Pure genius.”
What is Messi’s secret? Johan
Cruyff, a soccer legend, explains.
“The secret,” he said, “is the
speed of his change of pace;
Messi changes direction every
half meter. When the defense
takes a step he has taken two
in two different directions. His
dominion of the space-time relationship is skillful, always starts
first and this allows him not to
be caught.”
Marcelo Vieira, the great Brazilian player added, “It is a very
rare thing. I do not know how to
explain it. Messi goes one, two,
three. I do not know what he
does, how he handles the ball.
You do not stop him by kicking him.” When Barcelona beat
Juventus 3–1 in the Champions
League final game, and although
he didn’t score during this game,
Messi was again a key player for
his team.
Perhaps the greatest explanation for Messi’s achieve-
ments was provided by the late
Uruguayan writer, Eduardo
Galeano, author of the book
“Soccer in Sun and Shadow,” “I
think Messi is unique in the history of mankind, because he is
someone able to have a ball in
the foot. They always say that
Maradona had the ball tied to
his foot, but Messi has it inside
the foot, and that is scientifically
“You see him persecuted by
7, 11, 22 rivals trying to get the
ball and there is no way to get
it out his foot. Why is this so?
Because they are seeking the ball
outside Messi’s foot, but the ball
is inside him. Now how you can
fit a ball inside the foot? It is an
incomprehensible phenomenon, but it’s true, he carries the
ball inside, not outside his foot,”
Galeano concluded.
One may try different explanations for his talent but one
thing is certain: Messi is one of
the greatest soccer players of all
time, a true glory to the game.
Dr. César Chelala is a New York
writer born in Argentina.
Views expressed in this article
are the opinions of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the
views of Epoch Times.
What Happened to the Banks That Failed?
By Joao Granja
During the financial crisis and its
aftermath, the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
sold nearly 500 failed banks in
the United States.
These hurried sales of institutions seized by the agency reverberated throughout local and
regional economies and had serious consequences nationally. The
FDIC lost $90 billion in the deals,
and at the height of the crisis in
2009, the agency’s deposit insurance fund was $21 billion underwater.
I have been exploring this
extraordinary episode in U.S.
banking history with two other
researchers, Gregor Matvos and
Amit Seru, both of the University of Chicago. We wanted to
find out what happened to banks
when they were sold, who bought
them and why, and what the
implications might be for public policy.
To do this, we compiled information on all FDIC bank sales
from 2007 to 2013 and analyzed
the data using probability models and other methods.
More broadly, our study
focused on understanding the
nature and efficiency of allocation outcomes when failed assets
are sold. These findings have
direct implications for the design
of the bank resolution process—
how to deal with the death of a
financial firm—an issue that is
confronting policymakers and
real estate loans, commercial and
industrial loans, consumer loans,
or commercial real estate (CRE)
In other words, a failed lender
that specialized in residential real
estate was most likely acquired
by a bank also specializing in residential real estate.
Finally, we also found that
an important force driving the
potential acquirers’ willingness
to pay for a failed bank is the
increase in market concentration resulting from an acquisition. Potential acquirers whose
market concentration increases
most with the acquisition of the
failed bank should have a higher
willingness to pay for a failed
bank because they will benefit
from cost synergies and reduced
competition in local banking
Banking remains very much a local business and a people business.
researchers both in the United
States and the EU.
In this study, we tried to understand the costs associated with
failed bank sales in the United
States. We hope that these facts
will help policymakers weigh the
costs of selling banks against the
costs of supporting them outright during future financial crises. Understanding these tradeoffs should help policymakers
reduce the taxpayer costs associated with reorganizing a banking system in distress.
Banks Are Locavores Too
One of our most striking find-
ings was that buyers of failed
banks tended to be very local.
The FDIC auctions banks to the
highest-qualified bidder, and 84
percent of banks the FDIC sold
during this period went to buyers from the same state.
Our findings are consistent with the idea that despite
deregulation and advances in
information technology, banking remains very much a local
business and a people business.
“Soft” information about local
real estate and business markets, gleaned from being physically present in these markets,
is a key determinant of who is
likely to buy a failed bank. Banks
that know their communities are
likely to acquire the failed banks
in those communities.
Buyers also tended to be in
the same field as the banks they
acquired. Some failed banks
focus more on consumer lending, others on mortgages, still
others on commercial loans.
We found that failed banks
are significantly more likely to
be sold to potential acquirers
whose portfolios of loans have
a similar composition, whether
on the dimension of residential
Poorly Capitalized
But sometimes, local banks are
poorly capitalized, which constrains their ability to bid for
a failed bank, we found in our
study. In these situations, the
FDIC usually winds up selling
the failed bank to a less qualified suitor, located farther away.
These buyers are, however,
less capable of understanding
the local business of the failed
banks, and they make lower bids.
In these cases, the FDIC bears a
larger percentage of the costs of
the bank’s failure by earning a
smaller sale price.
The economic magnitude of
these effects is substantial. The
median capitalization of the local
bidders in the sample—in terms
of the percentage of their assets
considered Tier 1 capital—was
11.7 percent.
But when the capitalization
of local bidders falls to about
10 percent, the cost to the FDIC
increases by 2.3 percentage points
of the assets of the failed bank—
in other words, the agency sells it
for a price that much lower. This
lower price would represent an
increase of 8 percent in the total
losses that hit the deposit insurance fund during the crisis.
It is important to note that
although selling failed banks was
the FDIC’s standard approach in
this crisis, it is not the only option
available to regulators. A failed
bank could be bailed out or it
could be liquidated.
Today, the number of bank
failures in the United States
has fallen to a handful annually. During this time of relative
calm, regulators would be wise to
evaluate carefully the practice of
selling failed banks and to consider the merits of other options.
Another crisis will come someday. Now is the time to prepare.
Joao Granja is assistant professor of Accounting at MIT Sloan
School of Management. Previously published by The Conversation (theconversation.com).
Views expressed in this article are
the opinions of the author(s) and
do not necessarily reflect the views
of Epoch Times.
The New Face of Noplace, USA
Big hotel chains are opening fake boutique lines to snare travelers who prefer independently run lodging
By Jim Hightower
As everyone who travels a lot
soon learns, it’s easy to forget
where you are. Those big chains
uniformly offer all the charm of
Noplace, USA.
This disorienting sameness
has become more dizzying in
recent years as the chains have
merged and conglomerated.
Weary travelers might choose
to stay overnight in one of the
Residence Inn hotels, or a Courtyard, the TownePlace Suites, or
even splurge for a night in a RitzCarlton. In fact, though, you’re
in a Marriott—the $14-billion-a-
year amalgamation that owns all
of the above hotel chains, along
with 15 others.
Marriott is among the world’s
10 largest hotel operators. Combined, these companies run 113
different chains.
Naturally, as uniformity and
conglomeration have taken
over the industry, a consumer
rebellion has erupted. More
and more travelers—especially
younger ones—are seeking out
independent hotels, unique inns,
and local B&Bs. They prefer the
un-corporate places that have
cool names like the Moxy, Canopy, and V?b.
But, oh crud, guess what? All
three of those are just offshoots
of corporate hotel chains that
opened in the past year. These
intentionally hip brands belong,
respectively, to Marriott, Hilton,
and Best Western.
Known in the industry as “lifestyle hotels,” these fake independent lodgings are the hot
new niche for mega-conglomerates trying to nab travelers
in search of authenticity. “The
big hotel chains are in the business of pretending they aren’t
big chains,” said Pauline Frommer, editor of the well-regarded
Frommer’s travel guides. “They
want you to think they are boutiques.”
It sounds sneaky. But do they
think that duping customers is
a good strategy? Once travelers
realize we’re being deceived,
we’ll get angry. And that’s bad
for business.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator,
writer, and public speaker. He’s
also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.
This article previously published
on OtherWords.org.
Views expressed in this article
are the opinions of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the
views of Epoch Times.
A Hilton Garden Inn in Chicago in 2013.