Economists Claim Better Record than Paul the Octopus

A German economic think tank said it has a stronger record for calling soccer games and a better foundation for its picks than an octopus who became an international celebrity for picking World Cup winners.

An octopus named Paul sits on a box decorated with a Spanish flag and a shell inside on July 9, 2010 at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany. Paul's task is to decide in favour of one of the shells hidden in boxes with the flags of the Netherlands and Spain to act thus as oracle for the upcoming final match of the FIFA Football World Cup between the two countries on July 11, 2010. Paul, the 'psychic' octopus, who had predicted well the result of six German matches earlier in the
Roland Weihrauch | AFP | Getty Images
An octopus named Paul sits on a box decorated with a Spanish flag and a shell inside on July 9, 2010 at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, western Germany. Paul's task is to decide in favour of one of the shells hidden in boxes with the flags of the Netherlands and Spain to act thus as oracle for the upcoming final match of the FIFA Football World Cup between the two countries on July 11, 2010. Paul, the 'psychic' octopus, who had predicted well the result of six German matches earlier in the

Paul the Octopus proved correct once again when Spain indeed won the World Cup against the Netherlands, as he predicted. But due to an incorrect call during the Euro 2008 tournament, Paul can't match the DIW Institute for Economic Research.

DIW said it also picked Spain to win both the World Cup and also correctly predicted that Spain would win the 2008 Euro thanks to its economic model. Paul was right in all eight of his picks in 2010 but got one of his 2008 picks wrong, tarnishing his clean record.

The think tank used transfer market value estimates of players to pick Spain to win the World Cup. With a value of 650 million euros ($819 million) for the 23-man squad, Spain were DIW's pre-tournament choice.

"Let's see Paul top us," Wagner said, referring to the octopus from Oberhausen that captured the world's imagination.

But Wagner did not mention the fact that DIW, using its economic model, had made England their second choice based on the players aggregate market value of 542 million euros.

England were eliminated early in the tournament by Germany.

DIW was not the only institute eclipsed by Paul's uncanny winning streak. Humbled professors across Europe were recently quoted saying Paul got lucky with his picks and some prestigious investment banks were far off the mark.

UBS, for example, gave Spain just a 4 percent chance of winning the trophy with their past performance model. The Netherlands, who meet Spain in the final Sunday, had just an 8 percent chance, the bank said.

JPMorgan fared a little better, putting Spain in the final. But it predicted England — which exited in the first knock-out round game — would triumph.

The octopus predicted football matches by picking food from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank, each adorned with the flag of one of the matches' competitors.

- Reuters contributed to this report.