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A state of zen could very well be the secret to Belgium’s success as it takes on Italy, where mid and small caps are driving growth


Kirsten Hastings




Score prediction: BELGIUM 2 – ITALY 1


Belgium is a complicated country

In a 26 June article in The Economist, titled Belgitude; the Art of Belgian Zen, Belgium is called the “World’s most successful failed state”.

The Belgian State structure is indeed remarkable. This country of 11 million people has three official languages (Dutch, French and German). English is widely used in Brussels but the Brussels region is official bi-lingual (French-Dutch). Flanders is Dutch-speaking and Wallonia French-speaking. There is also a German-speaking  community with its own government but this is not officially a region. So, as the Economist writes: “In Belgium responsibility is shared between so many layers that ultimately no one is charge.”

So how on earth is it possible that such a fragmented country can have a good collaborating football team?

The Economist writes: “Belgian Zen is possible because Belgians are almost as rich as Germans, healthcare is excellent, property is cheap, wages are high.”

And the football team performs well (albeit only the last years).

Because of the many native languages, most Belgian players are able to communicate with almost everybody. Romelu Lukaku speaks native Dutch and French but obviously also English and Italian, now he plays in Milan.

Kevin Debruyne spoke excellent German when he was playing in the German league. Thibaut Courtois is also native bi-lingual (his father is Walloon and his mother Flemish) but now obviouly he speaks Spanish at Real Madrid (and even more obvious before English at Chelsea).

So the disadvantage of having many regions, cultures and languages are probably one of the basics for the Belgian Success.

Don’t you think this would make a good reason for Belgium to win the European Championships?




Score prediction: BELGIUM 1 – ITALY 2


Looking at the equity stock market in Italy there are peculiar characteristics: first of all we have to distinguish between the main index (FTSE MIB) and the mid and small cap market.

In some aspect like the UK Stock Market, the main index is more exposed to global dynamics, with financials at 30%, energy and utilities as the heavier sectors, while the mid small cap indices are more representative of the real Italian economy, where, historically, the engine has always been the small enterprises.

In the first group we can find traditional national champions like Intesa or Unicredit, that compete with the French and German and Spanish in the European field, while in the second we have different companies, also in the financial sector, more related to terchnology, more projected into the future of the sector.

In the second group we can find some brands of the luxury business like Ferragamo, Brunello Cucinelli, Tod’s well known over the world and with a large part of the revenues coming from emerging markets with great perspectives of growth.

To conclude the two different part of the markets or both interesting for different reasons, in my opinion now we should concentrate on the mid small part of the market, more oriented to the global recovery.