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"Soccernomics" urges Italy World Cup win

Written by: Staff
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AMSTERDAM, Mar 22 (Reuters) Among European countries Italy should win the World Cup because its economy desperately needs a boost, economists at Dutch bank ABN AMRO said today.

The bank's economists have been having fun with their forecasts before big soccer events for years, with a ''Soccernomics'' report that comes complete with charts and detailed data analysis.

They argue that winning the tournament generally boosts the victors' economy, owing not just to higher sales of alcohol and commemorative T-shirts but also to a ''feel-good'' factor that increases consumer confidence.

In European economic terms, the finalists should be Germany and Italy, the bank said.

Both countries have low growth, inflexible labour markets and a budget deficit that breaks European Union rules.

But Germany already gets an advantage from hosting the event through stadium construction more tourism and higher consumption -- and the country is already more competitive.

For those who trust markets more than they trust economists, the bank has also analysed the field based on Internet betting sites to gauge punters' views.

The clear winner here is Brazil, followed by England.

But there is a statistical argument against Brazil as the next world champions -- home advantage. Since 1958, no Latin American country has won the World Cup on European soil.

REUTERS PDS KN2142

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