The World Cup is not the only reason to head to Brazil

What’s the difference between Goldman Sachs and an octopus? The octopus, named Paul, correctly predicted the winner of the last World Cup, Spain. Goldman Sachs didn’t – it went with Brazil.

With the World Cup just days away, Goldman Sachs turned its powers of analysis (usually reserved for the markets) to the beautiful game, with its report, The World Cup and Economics 2014.

It conducted a ‘stochastic’ analysis of the 64 games that make up the tournament using past match data, and made a stab at predicting the overall winner. For those who are interested, Goldman Sachs has plumped for Brazil – again.

What’s more, Goldman reckons that just hosting the World Cup will provide a fillip to Brazil’s stock market – the Bovespa – of around 2.7%. And whichever country wins can expect a stock market boost of 3.5% apparently. However, the effects of the feel-good factor rapidly taper off after the final whistle.

To be clear, we’re not taking this research from Goldman Sachs very seriously. It’s closer to the ‘bit of fun’ category than serious advice. Investing in Brazil purely because it’s hosting the World Cup doesn’t make much sense.

But I can give you a better reason to invest in Brazil – we’re pretty positive on the long-term story for the country. Our editor John Stepek laid out the investment case in a cover story last August.

Granted, Brazil certainly has several problems at the moment. Inflation is high and growth is slow, and there’s also plenty of corruption. As a result, many Brazilians have taken to the streets in protest. Then there’s the huge cost of hosting the World Cup and the Olympics in 2016.

As John noted, “Brazil now has weak growth, above-target inflation, and a disgruntled, over-indebted populace, which, having got used to ever-improving living standards, now wonders where the good times have gone.”

But for all that, Brazil is cheap on a cyclically-adjusted price/earnings (Cape) ratio of just ten. And there are reasons to be optimistic on the country’s future. Brazil’s population is huge – the fifth biggest in the world – and the average age is just 29, compared to 39 in America. That makes for a young and dynamic labour force.

The Brazilian government is also pouring billions of dollars into upgrading its roads, railways and airports – all of which is great for attracting investment.

Perhaps, the date that should be on everybody’s calendar isn’t 12 June, when Brazil kicks off the tournament against Croatia. Rather it should be 5 October this year. That’s when Brazilians head to the polls. A change of government could be just the ticket to get the country back on track. As BlackRock’s Will Landers remarked, “the market has reacted positively… with growing voter interest in opposition candidates.”

The easiest way for investors to put their money in Brazil is through the iShares MSCI Brazil Fund (LSE: IBZL). For the full lowdown on investing in the country, read John’s cover story.

And for more great ideas and tips on investing in Latin America, sign up for free to The New World email. MoneyWeek regular and Latin America specialist James McKeigue provides all the latest insights and opportunities for investors in the region.

Finally, since football and trivia go hand-in-hand, here’s one final fact. According to vouchercodes.co.uk, every goal that England scores is worth £198.5m to Britain’s economy. Come on England!

Merryn

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