Olympic Efficiency


Alex Tabarrok finds an amusing example of rapid market adaptation.


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  1. It’s obviously fake. The sign has clearly been photoshopped.

  2. I thought so too, but I’m not an expert. The top left corner looks kinda pixillated to me.

    Plus, there’s no IOC copyright-enforcement team swarming her display, so I gotta figure the Olympic ring logos have also been photoshopped!

  3. Why would a French sign read “Half Price”? Wouldn’t it read “Demi Prix” instead?

    Maybe the woman was selling them to American tourists who could take them home for a good chuckle.

  4. I’d think they’d be worth double rather than half… as collectors’s items.

  5. SPD,

    If anyone is selling Paris 2012 t-shirts in France for half price, the sign would almost certainly be in English. The sense I got when I was there last month was that Parisians were mightily sick of the ‘Paris 2012’ ad campaign bombardment.

    And street merchants don’t target French-speakers; they target English-speakers. Americans, really. Look like an American, get hassled by guys with flashing Eiffel Towers. Look like a European, get ignored by the same guys.

  6. Does anybody really care about the Olympics?

    Just be glad it’s not in the US.

  7. Thank God it’s not New York. I’ve already lived through the Atlanta disaster of ’96.

    Speaking of which, I remember reading some time ago that the Olympics have had a negative net economic impact on every city that’s ever hosted except for one (Montreal, I think). Does anyone know of such an analysis, and where I can find it, or am I dreaming?

  8. drf

    Just be glad it’s not in the US.

    No kidding. A bunch of local boosters here got involved in the Tampa bid. They figured Tampa combined with Orlando would have a better chance or something. I was so relieved when they were dropped.

  9. That said, I’m a little surprized. On the Beeb this AM everyone seemed to think the smart money was on Paris.

  10. I took a second, closer look at the photo, and I also think the photo has been doctored. The letters on the sign don’t appear to conform to the curvature of the cardboard (specifically in the word “half”), and don’t appear to be in perspective.

  11. I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell of NYC2012 after it became clear that the state government had reservations about handing over $300M dollars to the owner of the Jets. Unfortunately, our city leaders have no such qualms, and are ready and willing to shell out hundreds of millions to keep the Yankees, Mets, and Nets happy with three (!) new stadiums. So… we New Yorkers won by losing the Olympics, but we lose anyway.

  12. The photo is clearly a fake! I could do a better job myself. You can tell that the words were drawn on the sign with a computer mouse.

  13. Montreal was an economic disaster. Barca, I believe, made a smallish profit. The Deutsche Welle had an article a bit ago about “cash cow or money pit” and the olympics.

    In montreal, there’s still some taxes active to pay off that disaster…

    From an article, guardian.co.uk/sydney/story/0,7369,377443,00.html:

    “When the New South Wales government bid for the Olympics in the early 1990s, its treasury withheld its support, fearing a repeat of the disastrous 1976 games, which left Montreal bankrupt.”

    and from treasury.nsw.gov.au/pubs/trp97_10/append_a.htm#a_4_1

    “The potential downside from the holding of the Olympics are illustrated by the experience of Montreal in 1976. After the huge losses at Montreal few cities wanted to suffer two decades of debt. The 1976 Montreal Olympics lead to debts of upto $C1 billion which the taxpayers of Montreal are still paying off. Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee have pointed out that the Montreal Games, without the site costs, made a cash profit of $C116 million. Montreal embarked on a massive capital works program associated with, but essentially peripheral to, the Olympic Games. The IOC maintain that Montreal was not asked to make the massive capital expenditure that left the city with a long-term financial burden. Therefore it is important to qualify statements about the losses associated with the Montreal Games.

    Perceptions of the Montreal experience had the effect of dissuading many from seeking to hold the Olympics in the subsequent years. “

  14. JMoore,
    Well, I know the LA Olympics made money and the city is often seen as the prime “alternate” in case the host city drops the ball. Of course, that’s net benefit for the Olympics, not sure how it translated to the city of LA itself.

  15. Thanks, drf & Mo. I knew I must be dreaming something. Especially since I doubt such a study can really be done. How can you really calculate the full costs & benefits of the Olympics to the host city?

    I’ve always wondered, too, why world-class cities like this year’s candidates even bother. Maybe it kinda made sense for a smaller, newer city like Atlanta to announce its coming out onto the world stage (sort of a municipal debutante ball), but do London, Paris, New York, Madrid, and even Moscow really need the attention? My personal theory is the only true goal of getting the games is to pad the reputations of people like our own dear Mayor Bloomberg.

  16. All the losing cities should thank their lucky stars.


    Athens will be in the hole for years to come from what I have read.


    When they say profit, does that mean the government was reimbursed? For example, did the SLC games in 2002 refund the Feds for all the money spent on protecting the games?

  17. That said, I’m a little surprized. On the Beeb this AM everyone seemed to think the smart money was on Paris.

    Apparently it was – over at Tradesports Paris was a prohibitive favorite while London barely registered a week ago. But the interesting thing is that over the last week the price of the Paris contract declined from about 80 to under 70 (payoff is 100) while over the same period the price of the London contract was increasing from about 10 to 33 by today. It seems the market knew something and was moving in the right direction well ahead of the official announcement.

  18. Brian Courts,

    Well, in the long run, London is real loser.

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