2012 Olympics: Economic Gold?

By: Dr. Lynn Reaser

As the London Olympics draw to a close, the question arises:  Was it worth it—did the Games earn a positive return on investment (ROI)?  Or was it another ego trip by civic leaders.

Although the totals have not yet been tallied, the costs of construction, security, logistics, and other activities have sailed past the original estimates for building alone.  Returns also are likely to fall short.

Economic activity typically receives a short-term boost from construction and retail spending only to fall after the games end.  A worldwide economic slowdown, with full-blown U.K. and Eurozone recessions, has dampened that temporary thrust.  Many local businesses curtailed operations while residents deserted London to avoid the potential for gridlock.  There could be a more positive long-lasting effect of the infrastructure and housing investments made in East London, sorely needing revitalization.

The primary benefit of the Olympics Games is non-economic.  They provide both a brief respite from global worries and a source of inspiration for all.


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