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World Cup Economic Bounce Disappoints Germany

France faced off against Italy in the World Cup championship match in Berlin and was defeated. Now it turns out that is not the only disappointment. The Germans expected an economic boost from the games that now appears to have fallen short as well.

Germans were hoping for a substantial boost to their economy as a result of hosting this year's World Cup. Two million tourists -- twice as many as expected -- fanned out across the country during the month-long tournament, spending their travel dollars on meals, lodging, and Cup-related merchandise. But Germany's Institute for Economic Research is now predicting the effect of the Games on national economic growth will tally out at an unimpressive .25 percent.

Economist Gerdt Wagner suspected this might happen. "The event is simply too small to be able to influence the national economy. Several billion (euros) will be invested, but that investment was split over a few years and is simply too small to give a kick to economic growth. Also, the amount of the investment is disputable because the investment in infrastructure would have happened anyway."

Despite expanded trading hours, many German shops report that business is down -- bad news for merchants, but also for the German government. It was counting on increased tax revenue from Cup-related sales to help stimulate the national economy and shake off a prolonged period of stagnation.

A survey of visitors conducted by Germany's tourist authority found more than 90 percent felt welcome in Germany and would recommend it as a tourist destination. Why they did not spend more is still being debated, although there were some economic winners.

World Cup sponsor Adidas reports a sales increase of 30 percent, or $1.5 billion during the tournament. The company has sold 15 million of the official World Cup 'Team Spirit' football, compared to just six million of its 2002 World Cup model.

Finally, flag manufacturers scored big. One department store reported a rise in flag sales of nearly 1,000 percent. That is prompting some to suggest that the biggest benefit of the Games may turn out to have come without a price tag attached.