Whilst rugby and cricket fans wait patiently for the start of the Autumn Internationals and The Ashes in Australia, The Weekly has been searching for interesting sporting trivia to keep us entertained. And much to our delight, we have discovered that a number of new 'activities' were officially recognised as a sport this week. Arm-wrestling, dodgeball, “match” poker, kettlebell lifting, FootGolf, table soccer and pole dancing were all awarded 'observer status' by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). In reality, the road for each of these sports to achieve official Olympic status remains a long one, not least as they would need to substantially increase their membership and become compliant with the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency. For any aspiring match poker Olympians, don’t worry! Cigarettes and watered-down cocktails are, so far, not on the list of banned performance-enhancing drugs.

The Weekly attended an IPF "Behavioural Economics" briefing this week, delivered by Matthew Richardson, Director of Research at Fidelity Investments. Not the catchiest of titles to tempt you out of bed early on a Friday morning (!), but one that ultimately provided a fascinating insight into investor decision-making. The briefing looked at the "irrational exuberance" that has led to real estate bubbles in the past, as well as the built-in biases that impact our supposedly "rational" investment processes. The "herding" phenomenon is one trend that we can all identify with, but the presentation also explored how the data that property investors rely on is often "framed" in a particular way. Why for instance do investors focus on capital growth when statistics show capital growth is consistently more volatile than income? What is the real definition of "prime"? The City of London, for example, has witnessed more volatility than any other sub-market in the last thirty years, but is viewed as an investor 'safe haven'. In the week when Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel prize in economics for his work on behavioural economics, we should not forget that psychology and economics are intertwined. 
 
When it comes to wine tasting, The Weekly knows the difference, just about, between a red and a white wine, and that wine from a bottle is normally a better ‘drop’ than wine from a box. So when the Annual World Wine Tasting Championships take place, like they did last weekend, The Weekly can only look on in admiration at the competitors’ knowledge. Assembled teams of four (some of them with a coach!) from twenty-four different countries descended on Burgundy in pursuit of being crowned World Wine Tasting Champions. The teams had to identify six whites and then six reds – principal grape variety, country, appellation, producer(!) and vintage – and were told that four of the wines were from France and the rest were from seven different countries (which transpired to include Switzerland, Mexico and Lebanon). Given that a third of the wines were French, the French team were widely expected to be crowned champions. Instead, they suffered the “ultimate affront” of finishing in 11th place, well behind the UK team (2nd), while a debuting Zimbabwean team forced Italy into last place. This year’s winners were Sweden, a country regarded as “being like England fifteen years ago,” when it comes to wine making. For the French, that must have really hurt!

 

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