Maenning argues one way to measure success of the World Cup, Olympics and sports infrastructure is to see "if it increases happiness."
He said both events are similar to giving a big party for your friends; you hope your guests enjoy themselves, and the host picks up all the bills.
"Brazilians are experiencing that it's nice to have the all international teams here," Maenning said. "It makes people feel better to be at the center of media attention worldwide."
Maenning said Germany's 2006 World Cup made people feel better. Brazil might follow suit, although a humiliating 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals may sour the mood.
"It is hard to show direct economic benefit for this event, but the goal should be making people happy," he said. "I cannot say about the cost. But we have to accept that the World Cup is a very good instrument to make people happy."
Associated Press writer Ana Santos in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.
Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP