Silky Brazil is the narrow betting favorite to win the World Cup soccer tournament that kicks-off Thursday in Moscow. In truth, any nation’s soccer fortune isn’t written in the odds, or the stars, but in the stats – the economic stats.
Today, we release the 4th edition of the Democracy Institute’s econometric soccer rankings, a popular tool among gamblers and investors. DI’s predictive model had very successful runs at the 2014 and 2010 Worlds Cups and, most recently, during Euro 2016. Two years ago, DI’s rankings favored small, economically free nations such as Iceland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Ireland. At the outset, each one was unfancied by bookmakers, ‘expert’ pundits, and conventional wisdom, yet on the pitch each one vastly exceeded expectations, with the Welsh making the semi-finals.
DI’s 2018 World Cup rankings signal that Brazil, France, Spain, and Argentina are poised to under-achieve. And, look for Uruguay, Switzerland, England, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Morocco, and Australia to exceed expectations. Colombia and Russia may also surprise over the coming weeks.
For the World Cup, our analysis draws upon the data provided in the Heritage Foundation’s “2018 Index of Economic Freedom.” For 24 years, the Index has measured the formidable positive relationship between economic freedom and social progress.