- Reuters/Moritz Hager; Reuters/John Sibley
- Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam appeared on a panel in London on Thursday.
- Thiam was asked about his view on the global economy and described his approach as the “anti-Wenger,” referencing Arsenal Football Club’s manager Arsene Wenger.
- “He forever believes that you can win games with inexperienced 19-year-olds who play in midfield,” Thiam said, “but you still have to have a good defence.”
LONDON – The CEO of Credit Suisse used Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to outline his investment philosophy on Thursday – but said he is, in fact, the “anti-Wenger.”
Tidjane Thiam, who supports North London football club Arsenal, told the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council in London on Thursday: “I define myself as a paranoid optimist – on simpler terms, the anti-Wenger for those who follow football.”
Thiam’s point was he is comfortable taking risks but always looks for potential hiccups so he can proactively guard against them. Wenger, on the other hand, is purely an optimist who doesn’t plan for anything going wrong and is confounded when things go against him.
“He’s the coach of Arsenal and he forever believes that you can win games with inexperienced 19-year-olds who play in midfield – and no defence, and no forward,” Thiam said.
“I was on a panel with him in September 2009, the League Manager’s Association invited us. I said something like I think you will never win the league again and I got him very angry. It’s 2018 – 9 years later – my prediction still holds.”
“I said [to Wenger]: the premise of football is to score more goals than you take [sic],” Thiam said. “Because you do not have a defence, you take one or two on average every game so you only win when you score two goals or more. How many times do you score two goals or more in a season? Not enough to win the league. I rest my case.”
Wenger has managed Arsenal since 1996, the longest spell in the club’s history, and won the Premier League in 1998, 2002, and 2004. However, his form has declined since then and there have been growing protests against him from some Arsenal fans over the last few years. Thiam is a season ticket holder at Arsenal but has not attended a game since 2011 as a form of “silent progress.”
Wrestling it back to global economics, Thiam said: “I build a very positive picture of the world economy. Yes, you have all the issues around Syria and Korea and populism in Europe and all that but if you take a long-term perspective I am still very positive – but you still have to have a good defence.”
Thiam, who has run Credit Suisse since 2015, said he is “a great believer in the emerging markets story” and bullish on the US.
“The world economy I think is good,” he said.
“I look at Asia. If you take personal financial assets of people with more than $1 million, 2006-2016, we’ve added $26 trillion to the wealth of that group of people. Of that 26, 17 is in emerging markets and 9 in developed markets. That’s enormous.”