The Winter Olympics are full on as athletes from all over the world compete against each other, hoping to set new world records, win medals and be known as Olympians. Pyeongchang, the South Korean county that hosts the 2018 Winter games, enjoys a large influx of tourists – estimated at 80,000 people a day. This is certainly an unusually large number of tourists for a region that has a regular winter-time population of no more than 45,000 people.
Having such a high number of visitors to the Winter Olympics, and even more to the larger Summer Olympics, is not an unusual occurrence, however, and it is often mentioned as one of the benefits of being a host to the Olympic Games.
Baade and Matheson (see link below) distinguish between three key benefits of hosting the Olympic Games: “the short-run benefits of tourist spending during the Games; the long-run benefits or the ‘Olympic legacy’, which might include improvements in infrastructure and increased trade, foreign investment, or tourism after the Games; and intangible benefits such as the ‘feel-good effect’ or civic pride”.
On these grounds, a number of studies have been authored, attempting to analyse some or all of these benefits, distinguishing between short-term and long-term effects. Müller (see link below), uses data from the 2014 Oympic Games in Sochi, Russia, to assess the net economic outcome for the host region. He concludes that any short-term economic benefits caused by the investment influx (before and during the games) could not offset the long-term costs, leading to an estimated net loss of $1.2 billion per year.
Zimbalist (2015) and Szymanski (2011) report similar results when analysing data from the London Games (2012) and past major sporting events (Games and FIFA World Cup). Kasimati (2003) points out the significant economic benefits that host regions tend to enjoy for years after hosting the games, but argues that the overall effect depends on a number of factors (including pre-existing infrastructure and location).
The jury is, therefore, still out on what is the overall economic effect of being host to this ancient institution. But I must now dash as women’s hockey is soon to start. “Let everyone shine”.
For the sake of the games, South Korea needs to show hosting an Olympics can be economically viable CNBC, Yen Nee Lee (15/2/18)
South Korea’s Olympic bet is unlikely to pay off, economics professor says CNBC, Andrew Wong and Andrew Zimbalist (12/2/18)
Going for the Gold: The Economics of the Olympics Journal of Economic Perspectives, Robert A. Baade and Victor A. Matheson (Spring 2016)
After Sochi 2014: Costs and Impacts of Russia’s Olympic Games Eurasian Geography and Economics, Martin Müller (9/4/15)
Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup The Brookings Institution, Andrew Zimbalist (14/1/15)
About Winning: The Political Economy of Awarding the World Cup and the Olympic Games SAIS Review of International Affairs, Stefan Szymanski (Winter/Spring 2011)
Economic aspects and the Summer Olympics: a review of related research International Journal of Tourism Research, Evangelia Kasimati (4/11/03)
“Let Everyone Shine”: the song for the PyeongChang 2018 Torch Relay unveiled with 200 days to go Olympic Committee (24/7/17)
The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 Torch Relay Official Song PyeongChang 2018
- Using supply and demand diagrams, explain whether you would expect hotel room prices to change during the hosting of a major sports event, such as the Winter Olympics.
- List three economic (or economics-related) arguments in favour of and against the hosting of the Olympic games. Relate your answer to the empirical evidence presented in the literature.
- Why is it so difficult to estimate with accuracy the net economic effect of the Olympic Games?
$8 billion – this is the likely cost of the BP oil leak, which spilled 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Whilst the oil leak has been stopped for some time, there were ongoing concerns that the leak would re-appear due to the underwater pressure. The cost of stopping the leak has been substantial, but BP will face further costs, as the company begins to pay out compensation.
$20 billion is the compensation that residents of the Gulf of Mexico will receive. Further to this, BP has said that it will invest more money in promoting the tourism industry there, which has suffered from the oil spill. However, what about the fishing industry? Although compensation will be paid for the losses incurred, will this continue in the long term? The oil may cause a loss in productivity in certain populations of sea-life. How will this impact us? If certain fish became scarcer, then their price will rise accordingly, whether you purchase the fish at a shop or have it as a meal in a restaurant. To make matters worse, the hurricane season has arrived in the affected areas, which will make the clean-up effort even harder.
As BP’s share price has fallen, individuals have suffered from lower dividends. Jupiter Income Trust had almost 10% of their portfolio invested in BP, which largely explains the 9 per cent drop in their payout.
BP oil well ‘poses no further risk’, says Allen BBC News (5/9/10)
BP oil spill fallout hits Jupiter dividend Mail Online, Richard Dyson (4/9/10)
Gulf Oil leak: biggest ever, but how bad? BBC News, Richard Black (3/8/10)
BP oil spill didn’t hit tourism too hard Jabber Lounge, Gloria Rand (5/9/10)
BP oil victims face strings on $20 billion oil fund Telegraph, Rowena Mason (20/8/10)
BP share price data
BP historical share prices Yahoo Finance
BP share price chart Interactive Investor
- Which industries have been affected by the oil leak? Don’t think too close to home – look at the wider picture.
- Is the oil spill an example of a negative externality? Can it be illustrated on a diagram and, if so, how?
- What has happened to BP’s share price since the beginning of the oil spill? Put this on to a graph to trace the trend. Try to explain the changes in the share price using a demand and supply diagram.
- How would BP have calculated the compensation to be paid to residents of the Gulf of Mexico? Would cost–benefit analysis have been involved?
On April 20 2010, there was an explosion on one of BP’s drilling rigs approximately 50 km offshore and over 1000 metres underwater in the Gulf of Mexico. This has led to more than 5000 barrels of oil leaking into the sea every day. The slick now covers an area the size of Luxembourg. Attempts have, at this time, failed to stop the leaks and the massive sheet of oil is edging closer and closer to the coast.
A giant dome was the original idea to stop the oil leak, however, this proved ineffective, due to a buildup of crystallised gas in the dome. The next step is to shoot debris underwater, including golf balls, tyres and human hair, under intensely high pressure and try to clog the leak. However, every time a new idea to stop the leak is tested, costs for BP mount. Furthermore, every time an idea fails, costs for the environment and the affected industries increase. Costs to BP are currently estimated to be $350 million, but other businesses are also suffering. Oil has now started to appear at costal resorts, yet even before it did, the tourism industry was suffering. Captain Louis Skmetta from Ship Islands Excursions said:
“Yesterday was beautiful. School are letting out, and we were hoping for about 500 passengers yesterday. We had a total of 166. So we are definitely seeing a little bit of an impact”.
Another industry that is concerned about the effects is the restaurant trade, in particular those who specialise in sea-foods. With the oil killing off marine life, prices of seafood for businesses and customers have already begun to rise in New York and London. The impact on this industry cannot be accurately estimated at present, but costs are continuing to rise every day this environmental crisis continues. These price rises are on top of already rising commodity prices: Wholesale food prices rose 7 percent in the 12-month period that ended March 31 2010. There is great uncertainty about the overall economic impact of this crisis, but what is certain is that every day oil continues to leak, costs will continue to rise.
Dome fails to stop Louisiana oil leak Independent (10/5/10)
Aerial view of oil leak in Gulf of Mexico BBC News (9/5/10)
BP plans to use debris to staunch Louisiana oil leak Financial Times (10/5/10)
Cost of oil leak spills into valley Dayton Daily News, Mark Fisher and Steve Bennish (9/5/10)
BP: oil leak will be stopped but can’t say when Associated Press (7/5/10)
BP shares down; Says Deepwater cost $350m so far Wall Street Journal (10/5/10)
BP misses out on FTSE rally as oil spill costs reach $350m so far Guardian, Nick Fletcher (10/5/10)
Conn. restaurants fear spike in costs of crabs, shrimps, oysters following Gulf oil-spill The Middletown Press, Cara Baruzzi (10/5/10)
BP examining oil leak options ABC News (10/5/10)
Oil-soaked crab threatens sea-food prices at top-ranked eateries Bloomberg BusinessWeek (10/5/10)
Tourism operators say oil threat hurting their pocketbooks WLOX, Danielle Thomas (10/5/10)
Coastal businesses feel the pain of Gulf oil leak NPR, Debbie Elliott (7/5/10)
- Try to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of the two attempts to stop the oil leak.
- Which industries are likely to be affected by the oil rig explosion? Explain your answers.
- Who should have to pay for the clean-up? Could the oil spill be seen as a negative externality?
- Why are restaurants in London seeing rising food prices, when the oil leak is located in the Gulf of Mexico?
- What has happened to BP share prices? How do you think they will change when the oil leak is stopped?
- What will be the impact on BP in the long term? Think about the role of corporate social responsibility.