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Everything posted by Nacre

  1. Since the only project I have to do this weekend is re-flooring my den and there's no actual sports discussion here, I've decided to put forward the economic argument in favor of hosting the Olympic Games. This will be a very long post, so apologies in advance for boring you. Macroeconomics Before we get into the Olympics themselves, I want to explain a little bit about macroeconomics and how money functions. Monetary Velocity The Monetarist policy of the Western World has focused on inflation rate and monetary supply rather than the circulation of money. The result is that the velocity of money, or the rate at which money circulates through the economy, is now worse in the Western World than at any time since the Great Depression. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/M2V Western countries have massive supplies of capital, but it is just sitting around doing nothing as everyone hoards money. Millennials don't trust the stock market and won't invest, banks don't trust homeowners and small businesses to pay back loans, the ultra wealthy prefer to literally buy more money in the form of buying government debt (from accounts in tax havens, of course) rather than invest it, idiots buy bitcoin to hoard their cash, et al. The result is economic stagnation as the great wheel of commerce grinds along at a rate slowed by the lack of monetary circulation to push it along. It's no coincidence, in my opinion at least, that we are seeing populist political parties emerge in the West because the last time this kind of monetary stagnation happened (during the Great Depression) it gave rise to Fascism. Wage Stagnation Hand in hand with decreased velocity of money itself, the Western World has seen a stagnation (or outright decrease) of wages. Since I used American data last time I will use Japanese data this time to show that this isn't a problem unique to the USA. https://resources.realestate.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Japan-average-annual-salary-2008-to-2016-2-of-2-1024x636.png Hoarding Money Humans are not rational. We are also selfish, and make decisions on a personal basis rather than what works for the greater good. And these two unfortunate facts are behind the West's economic problems. People see money as a commodity. Gold coins are a commodity: gold. Pure money on the other hand is not a commodity. It has no value in and of itself. Money is a medium of exchange for goods and services, not a commodity. When people face difficult economic times the immediate visceral response is to hoard. And if otherwise sane people see their neighbors hoarding they will tend to do it as well. (Do a web search for "consensus reality.") But what people do not understand is that hoarding money is the cause of the recession. The cause of our economic slowdown is all of those stupid people panicking and hoarding their money instead of spending it. The profits of businesses, the wages of employees, the interest collected by banks and the taxes collected by government are all dependent upon money circulating through the economy. When everyone unintentionally conspires to stop money from flowing through the economy, we go through an economic slowdown. Government Austerity Consumers, businesses and banks, having adopted policies of retrenchment for themselves, also demand austerity from government. But this is merely compounding an error. Citizens demanding that governments reign in spending to the minimum are doing themselves a disservice. Spending public money on the Olympics (or other mega projects) can actually be a very good idea. Refusing to provide public funding for projects like the Olympics is not really going to lead to prosperity. The Economics of the Olympics Both the defenders and the supporters of the Olympics tend to push it as a get rich quick scheme. And if you see the Olympics from that perspective then the economics of the games do not make much sense. While the Olympics requires a massive short term workforce, this translates into full time jobs for very few local people. The vast majority of Olympic workers are unpaid volunteers, imported foreign specialist workers, and very short term workers who end up having to find another job after the "five ring circus" has packed up and moved on. The promise of a massive influx of tourists is a siren's song due to the displacement effect. Rio gained tourists in 2016, but between Atlanta 1996 and London 2012 every summer games host city actually lost tourists on the year of their games. (In fairness for London 2012 the Olympic tourists ended up buying more in shops than the average tourists, so the city still did alright that year.) The security costs are a money-eating black hole that grows bigger with each Olympiad. The Olympics require the construction of palatial sporting venues that are fundamentally unsuitable to the long term sporting needs of the host city. This is in large part due to the demands of the sporting federations. For example Rio already had an existing high level tennis complex before 2016: Jockey Club Brasileiro for the Rio Open. Yet they had to include a very expensive temporary tennis complex in their bid to win over the International Tennis Federation. If you look at the Olympics from a short-term view, they are an absolutely awful proposition economically. The benefits from the Olympics are shown in the long term. Public Confidence The Olympics make people happy and somewhat optimistic. And this can be useful in breaking people out of the cycle of retrenchment and monetary hoarding. It's hard to find concrete data to support this as the sample size is so small. Los Angeles did comparatively very well after the 1932 games, but part of that was due to the LA oil fields and the city was already growing very rapidly in the 1920's along with the rise of Hollywood. Berlin also did well for two years after 1936, but . . . yeah. Rio has not fared well, but that's due more to a national financial crisis than the Olympics themselves. But subjective studies have been pretty clear that the Olympics make people happier and have a more positive outlook on their city's future, and this should result in more investment and economic development. Property Values The single biggest advantage of the Olympics is the ability of cities to use them for redevelopment. London's Queen Elizabeth Park in East London is an excellent example of this. The Olympic Park has helped boost property values in the area, which in turn means more property tax revenue for the government. Other examples include the growth of the Parramatta district of Sydney around the Olympic Park. Unfortunately this can also been seen as a negative thing for the people already living in the area, just as gentrification is a mixed blessing everywhere. And anti-development people are always going to be a problem for cities in any kind of project designed to improve a city commercially. Public Infrastructure Pictures of unused and deteriorating sporting venues have become a stock character in the Olympic story. But the non-sporting venues are generally a good idea. Barcelona is the ultimate example of this. For the 1992 games the city spent lots of money on transit and tourism infrastructure, and this has helped turn Barcelona into one of the biggest tourism destinations in Europe. This is the best case scenario and even in Barcelona the increase in property values is not especially popular with the people who feel priced out of the city. But the Olympics played a substantial role in the economic redevelopment of Barcelona into a tourist mecca, and in turn with making Catalonia the most economically prosperous part of Spain. Even Sochi, the poster child for waste on capital spending, has actually done alright after their winter games. Building a warm weather tourist destination nearly from scratch was massively expensive for Russia, but it seems to be paying off. Hotel occupancy is in the low sixties: about the same as the average hotel occupancy rate in the US. And this during a period of crippling economic sanctions against Russia. In the long run Sochi will probably become Russia's equivalent to Orlando in the United States. Hosts typically lose money on the Olympic Village, but that is true of virtually all public housing projects. In the long run the expansion of high density housing will be worth a small loss on the initial construction of the Olympic Village. And if the host city can follow the typical American model of building a village as dormitories for a university the subsidy to education should be well worth the investment. Conclusion I have to get around to ripping up my carpets, so I'll wrap this up. Los Angeles has never put forward a "good" bid. Of the nine times it has been in a bid race, it has lost every time. But it has hosted the Olympics twice before and will soon host once again by constantly putting forward bids that minimize spending on wasteful, non-recoverable costs like palatial sports venues with no obvious use after the Olympics. When the IOC has had few other options, Los Angeles has been waiting in the wings with a cost effective bid, ready to host on its own terms. And this is what cities should do; focus on the long term benefits of hosting the Olympics and the needs of the host city rather than hoping to somehow make a lot of money on the three week festival or putting on the "best Olympics ever" with the most lavish sporting venues. The cities that do so have in fact gotten their money's worth out of hosting the Olympics.
  2. And it's important for people to understand that the IOC picked Denver before Colorado signed the agreement to provide public money. Governments in Paris and LA have already signed an agreement to host.
  3. I certainly have opinions that other people disagree with but I have never felt the need to use personal attacks to communicate those ideas or to respond to the opinions of others. If people want to have a flame war they can do it through private messages.
  4. Can you guys give it a rest with the GIF's and slurs? This isn't a fight anyone is going to win. If you want to debate something, debate it. Don't use ad hominem attacks. If you just want to vent your vitriol go play War Thunder or something instead.
  5. The problem is that "the private model" doesn't work anymore due to the need to spend $1b in public money on security costs even for the winter games. Vancouver spent about $0.9b in 2018 USD and that is probably the bare minimum that the IOC will accept. (I've said I don't think it is necessary: there seemed to be a police officer stationed at every street corner in Vancouver in 2010. But I was shouted down handily here when I suggested this was excessive.) The security costs alone would require taxing every person in Sweden $100. So 1) it has to get public approval and 2) it won't get public approval in a public vote. I have the same doubts about LA in 2028, incidentally. Even with no permanent venues being constructed I don't think LA can break even once you factor in spending $2-3 billion on security. The real question is how much of that cost the organizers will be able to shift to the national government, and how much of it will fall on the city.
  6. The logistics would be extraordinarily difficult. The 2018 World Cup had roughly 736 players from 32 countries, with teams staying in base camps consisting of a hotel and a training pitch consisting of a grassy field. The 2016 Summer Olympics had 11, 238 athletes from 207 countries, with specialized training facilities needed for the majority of those athletes.
  7. Transit vs environmentalism is a classic public vs private conflict. Automobile transit is terrible for the economy and the world, but taxing it to fund mass transit is a terrible loss for individuals, especially the poor. (See the anti-fuel tax riots in Paris.) It takes me 10 minutes to get to work by car and about 70 by bus, for example. Unfortunately this is one area where politicians pushing for us to consider the needs of the country and the planet rather than ourselves are very vulnerable to accusations of "champagne socialism." Anyway for the specific idea of putting a toll of driving to fund mass transit, I am not sure if it would be legal in California. It is not in Washington State, and I know that it is illegal to tax anything related to aircraft for purposes other than aviation. A tax on jet fuel cannot be used for anything other than airport and aircraft services, for example.
  8. In 1976 there were only 494 total medals vs 973 in 2016. (Which itself shows just how many events the IOC has added in the last 40 years.) And while Canada didn't win a gold it still won 11 total medals: good enough for 11th overall. India placed 67th overall in 2016. Canada is at least competitive in summer Olympic sports. India is not. There's also the problem that the most popular sport in India (cricket) rejects participating in either the Olympics or even the Commonwealth Games. Baseball isn't usually in the Olympics, but it wants to be and has generally cooperated with the IOC. The Japanese league will take a break and release its players for Tokyo 2020 and even MLB teams let their minor league players play in the Olympics and the Pan-American Games, which means it is roughly the same level of quality as the (mostly) U-23 football/soccer in the Olympics. Irrespective of the issue of building a lot of white elephant venues in a country with a lot of poverty, the actual sports competitions would be problematic in India.
  9. India has a larger economy than France, Italy or Russia so of course it could host the Olympics. But there are some major non-economic obstacles. For starters India is really, really bad at most Olympic sports. India won 2 medals in 2016 and 6 in 2012, with no gold medals in either of the last two games. Isn't that going to be a bit humiliating if they are the hosts? Why not build some decent sports programs first before trying to host the Olympics?
  10. It will be great to see London's original plan for the Olympic Stadium implemented. I think this is the best way to handle the athletics stadium issue. 15,000 permanent seats is also the perfect size for IAAF events that are not the Olympics or championships. Paris has moved its IAAF Diamond League out of Stade de France to Stade Charlety and its 20,000 seats. Paris is a wealthy city with lots of corporations and 11 million people. If it can't make an annual IAAF event work at a large stadium what hope do cities like Budapest have? Stockholms Olympiastadion gets more regular athletics use than Beijing's gargantuan national stadium. Building a bigger stadium would not only be a waste of money; it wouldn't even improve Stockholm's ability to host athletics meets. I don't like Hungary's current government very much but this is a mostly solid plan. So just as with Minsk's generally sound plans for the European Games in 2019 I choose to applaud the engineers, athletes and general populace of Hungary and ignore their rather illiberal government.
  11. My point is that they didn't do it for the athletes. They did it for whomever will use it afterwards. During the Olympics, Pan-American Games, or whatever else the villages are basically just primitive dorm rooms. Which is why they have sometimes literally been dormitories, and in one case a prison. The IOC deserves to be blamed for a lot of things; there's no need to go looking for unwarranted criticism.
  12. The villages are hardly "the best accommodations." They don't even have covered floors, just bare concrete. If the village is nice it's because they need it to be for the apartments to sell after the games.
  13. Things that Expo does better than the Olympics: It lasts for six months rather than three weeks, which gives the host city a real chance to collect enough ticket revenue to pay for their capital costs. When Seattle hosted in 1962 both the Space Needle and the Seattle Center Monorail paid off their construction costs with ticket revenue during the fair. Cities can choose to built stuff that makes sense for them in the long term rather than white elephants they don't need. Paris building the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 Exposition Universelle is a great example. San Francisco or New York could build new public housing and use it as temporary exhibit spaces during a world's fair, for example. Cities can choose a theme that makes sense for them. The Olympics force a lot of sports on countries that do not actually like those sports very much. Expo hosts can pick something that makes sense for them: for example food was the theme of Expo 2015 in Milan. Getting Italians to care about pizza, pasta and wine is a lot easier than interesting them in speed skating or archery. The hosting cost is lower for an Expo than the Olympics if the host city isn't stupid. Things that are a problem for Expo: This Olympics are massively popular around the world despite the criticism of the IOC, and bring in large television revenues and sponsorship in addition to eyeballs. Few people today travel to attend the world's fairs. Expo was massively popular up until the era of television because working class people had no other way to access the rest of the world. With cheap jet flights and the internet that's no longer the case today. One and a half weeks work at minimum wage in Seattle earns enough to buy a round-trip ticket to Paris. And you can explore the world from a personal computer if you don't feel like flying. Top-down design and creative freedom are a recipe for disaster. Politicians who want to host an expo typically bid first and then figure out what to do with the expo afterwards. This leads to poorly defined and managed expos like Knoxville 1982 and Hannover 2000. Cities typically go way, way too big with their plans for world's fairs and overbuild. The fact that well planned expos can run at a profit even after capital costs is dependent upon cities being wise and frugal. Since the politicians and organizers who want mega-events are typically egomaniacs this rarely happens. World class cities like Shanghai and New York have typically fared a bit worse with the legacy of their expos than third-tier cities like Lisbon, Seattle and Vancouver. That makes it harder to sell the public in the world's best cities on bidding. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to pick one for my city to host, I would pick Expo even though it's kind of obsolete. I was genuinely tempted to go to Expo 2015 in Milan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlkTst6Kp3U
  14. You haven't answered the political issue though. Why would the USOC want to team up with Montreal when they can host the whole thing someplace like Utah?
  15. No, but my point is that speed skating is a similarly fringe sport. If someone stepped forward with the money to turn an abandoned warehouse or factory into a speed skating rink as happened with the velodrome, there would be plenty of people to block that as well. Finding land and local political support is an additional hurdle for the organizers to clear in New York City beyond fear of financial losses and distrust of the IOC.
  16. To be clear, I don't think New York will happen. Someone once tried to donate $50 million to the city parks to build a velodrome and the city turned it down. New York is not an easy location for these kinds of projects even when they are funded privately for public benefit.
  17. Multi-country hosting only makes sense for countries that can't do the whole thing on their own. The Latvian Olympic officials want to partner with Sweden because Latvia cannot host the winter Olympics. Meanwhile the USA doesn't need Montreal. If upstate New York can host the mountain events with a big city, why wouldn't the USOC choose New York City to be the city?
  18. That is a terrible layout for baseball, but they've clearly tried to maximize the experience for premium fans behind home plate. I don't think baseball will translate very well for British sports fans. And I don't mean the rules of the game. Baseball's sporting culture is a weird hybrid of a working class supported sport like football and a casual, high-minded sport like cricket or tennis. It isn't a sport popular with the upper class, yet fans are supposed to be polite and quiet while snacking and chatting or reading a book in between the sparse moments of quasi-action. Also I don't think baseball would be fun in any country without beer; does the Olympic stadium allow beer sales? https://media.zenfs.com/en/blogs/sptusmlbexperts/safecofieldbeerlist.jpg
  19. That is certainly true for Olympic level athletes, but it isn't true for people who aren't elite athletes. For example, Germany supports four bobsledding tracks because there is grassroots support for the sport there. They could make do with only one track, but having four allows for more locals to participate in the sport. We used to have a ski jump in Washington State that used to be the best in the western half of the US. (Bakke Hill) It was accessible to people across the state, and when it was still in use Washington produced some of the best ski jumpers at the national level. I don't want the Olympics in my state, but if Washington can rebuild Bakke hill and operate it for Calgary's quoted $50 million rebuild +$500,000 subsidy per year then I would like the ski jump rebuilt. Not for the sake of hosting the Ski Jumping World Cup or the Winter Olympic Games. But for the sake of providing athletic venues for winter sports athletes in my home state. "Sport for sport's sake" seems to be an idea lost between the fools arguing that the Olympics will get a city rich quick and the corrupt sporting administrators who want palaces for their sport built at the cost of local hospitals and schools. Both host cities and the sporting federations need to learn the wisdom of providing reasonable grassroots facilities at modest public subsidy rather than the current "all or nothing" approach.
  20. In fairness part of this is simply the result of demographic and macroeconomic issues in the western world. It was lot easier to spend money on sports venues when 1) a big chunk of the population is the right age to use them, 2) governments aren't spending huge amounts of money on debt servicing, and 3) when sports are one of the biggest forms of entertainment. Now we have an aging population and will eventually have to raise the retirement age or face economic ruin, Western governments have fallen into a massive hole of debt, and people prefer to spend their free time binging tv shows or playing video games (or wasting their time on online forums!) instead of getting out and exercising.
  21. Ah. Gotcha. The Chihuly thing is weird. His exhibit at the Seattle Center is the top rated attraction in the city on TripAdvisor. I can't think of any other postmodern artists who are more popular with the general public than with art critics.
  22. It isn't really my subculture, but I think Seattle is more into edible marijuana since you aren't allowed to smoke marijuana indoors in public buildings in Seattle, and most apartments don't allow you to smoke indoors either. I have heard from various potheads that Colorado is more popular with marijuana tourists for that reason, and we need to change the laws here or we will "lose out" on people coming to our state to do drugs. Personally I am OK with "losing out" on the stoners. Seattle has the highest per capita spending on the arts in the USA, and I would rather be known for that than vice.
  23. The Super Bowl is a single game, though. The NBA going to best of seven instead of best of five for its early playoff rounds so it has more games to televise is a better analogy. There really isn't a paucity of sports for broadcasters to show even if they cut the games in half. The mountain sports would still have snowboarding, alpine skiing, cross country skiing, ski jumping, biathlon, Nordic combined, luge, skeleton and bobsledding. The ice rinks have ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, short track speed skating, and curling. That's a lot of stuff to televise. But I freely admit that I have no special business insight into how it would affect broadcasters. Perhaps I am wrong. So if I am wrong . . . how should the IOC cut costs to the point that the Olympics become affordable again?
  24. They could host the winter games over a period of three weeks just like the summer games with the snow events in the first week and a half and the ice events in the second week and a half. We will have to agree to disagree. I admit my only experience in TV has been working with the gofers on a terrible reality show. I've never been an executive at NBC. Maybe I am wrong. But I don't see how more primetime programming with half of the venues and sports to cover at any single moment would translate into less profit for broadcasters. Anyway, for those of you feel my idea is terrible, how would you bring down costs?
  25. The logistics for a split snow and ice games would be easier. When I volunteered in 2010 (I didn't even get tickets: only a freaking Quatchi sticker I threw away) there were volunteers based in the lower mainland who were getting home from Whistler at 4 AM. How do you think volunteers and fans from Stockholm will easily travel to Are 600 km away for a day of work or spectating? Or Milan and Cortina 400 km away? In what way does the current winter games model of a big city and mountains hundreds of kilometers away make for easy logistics for the hosts? Is the Super Bowl hurt commercially by being held every year? Is UEFA's Champions League? At least on paper splitting the games up would give NBC more primetime broadcasting hours and more eyeballs over the course of the full four year Olympiad to appeal to sponsors. I don't see how it would be hurt.
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