All eyes are on Brazil as the World Cup kicks off -- and it's not just about the country's star-studded soccer team, which is a favorite to win the tournament. For nearly a decade, the Brazilian economy has been virtually unrivaled in its economic growth, benefiting from oil exploration, booming commodity prices and the country's close trade ties to China, which now the world's second largest economy by GDP. In recent years, global investors have poured money into and out of Brazil, creating some policy challenges. Meanwhile, many in Brazil haven't seen much of a benefit from the country's emergence as a growing economic power. Now, over a decade into Brazil's fantastic economic run, and a dozen years since the country last won the World Cup, big questions are emerging. In the past three years real GDP growth has slowed to 2% when accounting for the country's 6% inflation rate, according to Goldman Sachs. In 2014, real GDP growth could slow further. China, Brazil's largest trade partner is also suffering from a similar bout of slowing growth. Expectations for the Brazilian economy have been extremely high. Perhaps, the host nation this World Cup is poised for disappointment. Brazil faces Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon in the group stages of the World Cup. Anything short of trophy will be considered a failure for Neymar, David Luiz and company.
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