Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hosting the Olympics. Numbers don't lie. Much

I'll say upfront that I strongly support Chicago's bid to get the games in 2016 and find most of the opposition to be of a vague "fuck Daley" nature  or a piggy-back effect by groups looking to elbow their long list of pre-existing grievances into the attendant press spotlight.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has put up  an interesting working paper on "The Olympic Effect" with a more detailed discussion at Marginal Revolution.  While the upshot of hosting an Olympics is undeniably positive from an economic perspective there are similar benefits to bidding and  failing as well. Maybe that can be our common ground.  The paper focuses on the Olympic bump from countries more so than host cities and a 30% jump in trade from the Olympics would be much harder to quantify and isolate in America than it would a less dynamic national economy but still the basic tenets should hold.   Its unlikely that the games would have an overall positive effect on host nations but have a negative one on host cities.  Both Salt Lake and Atlanta (despite a bombing and congenital cheeziness) saw significant upswings in the local post games economy.

In fact the working paper characterizes the effect as "statistically robust, permanent, and large" so if any serious arguments against hosting the games are going to gain traction they'll have to argue against the investment rather than the expenditure.

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