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World Cup predictions: The latest growth industry

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The advent of the World Cup seems to have brought summer's "silly season" forward by a couple of months, as even normally sober economists finding any excuse to indulge their inner Pele and predict the outcome of the tournament.

Investment banks including Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank have suddenly produced a slew of soccer experts providing models for predicting the outcome. Funnily enough, most of them seem to suggest Brazil, the bookies' favorite at 3/1 and the host nation, is likely to win.


Bearing in mind that this is only the 20th World Cup so far, Brazil has won five of the tournaments, and the Brazilian soccer team hasn't lost a match on home ground since 2002, you don't really need a six-figure salary to figure out the favorites.

Whether the analysts and economists, taking a break from their day job to input some football statistics into Excel, are any better than Paul the Octopus, the German cephalopod who correctly predicted the outcome of the 2010 tournament, is open to debate.


Another way of getting into the headlines during World Cup fever (and presumably justifying a lot of time that would usually be spent doing your actual job rather than researching football) is to identify a possible trend.

These revelations include: people will drink more beer during the World Cup; advertising spend will go up; and hosting the World Cup is sometimes – but not always -- good for your economy.

There have also been the raft of the regular warnings: the U.K. government has said the national grid it is on standby for power surges during key matches; while small businesses have been warned of the effect of workers calling in late or "sick", given that most matches will start very late into the European evening. There are even tips on how to get your lawn "World Cup green."

It's enough to make you want the actual soccer to start.