Despite being an Englishman, former soccer player and manager, Jack Charlton, is immensely popular in the Republic of Ireland. As manager of the national team, he led the soccer-mad nation to its first World Cup competition in 1990. He has been awarded one of the Republic’s highest honours, an honorary Irish citizenship. Cork airport even has a life-sized statue of him indulging his passion for fishing. When he goes on fishing trips to the Republic, he has been known to pay his expenses by cheque. The payees, so delighted to have the autograph of their sporting hero, sometimes never bank them. The value and, therefore, the demand for this asset can be greater than suggested by the face-value because of the signature on it.
Such techniques could easily be used by indebted governments to boost demand for sovereign debt – and quite possibly to avoid repayments altogether. Imagine a 25-year French government bond with each coupon bearing the image and signature of the players in the triumphant World Cup squad, their manager, and their assistant manager. Fans would certainly think twice about ‘clipping a coupon’. The cup needn’t be the only gold the squad brings home.