February 13, 2010

Greece and Olympics

How much of the Greek bankruptcy has roots in the expenses of the 2004 Summer Olympics (and the backscratching political deals within Greece to get funding for the Olympics)? How much of the oil price spike of the summer of 2008 had to do with the Chinese stocking up in anticipation of the Olympics?

You would think it would be easy to make money on a sporting event where you don't pay the athletes in anything except glory, but after the 1984 LA Olympics, which made a fortune by using old stadia, it hasn't worked out like that.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

63 comments:

OHioStater said...

Its odd Greece had to pay so much since it was a guarantee the 100th anniversary games would be Greek.

The Bible warns against paying too much for anything. The Bible says paying too much is a sign of idolatry. Yep.

By the way, the opening ceremony last night was ho-hum compared to Beijing, but Beijing was to the opening ceremony what Cowboys Stadium is to sports facilities.

William1066 said...

Every ignored country/region/city wants to host an Olympics - to get their moment in the spotlight.

Thus we can't do the sensible thing and simply rotate the hosting among say a half dozen seasoned sites.

On the other hand, if its publicity they are after, hosting an Olympics is certainly cheaper than putting a man on the moon or starting a war.

Pete said...

so should we start bracing ourselves for the collapse of the Brazilian Real, around 2019 or 2020?

Anonymous said...

Montreal still hasn't recovered financially from the 1976 games.

TD said...

I'll be relishing your take this summer on South Africa's hosting of the World Cup. This thing could become an enormous disaster on multiple fronts.

Dysfunction will be on display for all the world to see, while pretending not to see it.

Big bill said...

According to the EuroPress, Goldman Sachs worked together with the Greek government to do some kind of currency fiddling that let the Greeks spend way more than they actually were permitted to under EU laws regarding sovereign debt limits.. Since they did it using currency manipulations, however, they were able to slip it past the EU bean counters. Of course everything has gone pear shaped since then, so … .

albertosaurus said...

Is US participation in the Olympics even constitutional? The games were originally and remain for some, a religious ceremony.

I don't really care myself, but there are a lot of lefties who like to harass traditional Christians over issues like this. If the government erects a cross for Christ we are supposed to be alarmed but all this torch lighting for Zeus is supposed to be OK?

In the old days we had Wide World of Sports as the venue for our junk sports. I remember fondly Figure Eight Racing. Maybe we should focus on the worship of Jim McKay rather than Hercules.

If a nation or municipality goes broke presenting Three-Legged races, Great! There is never enough humor in the world.

Obama isn't just a narrow nationalist. He recognizes that the Olympics belongs to the whole world and are "too big too fail". Can we expect him to nationalize it and assume all it's debts? I would find that stimulating.

Ed said...

So that's how you make money on the Olympics! LA's brilliant plan was to host the Olympics twice, so they could spend all the money on the first Olympics and save money on the second one. Cities should plan on hosting the Olympics twice, so they could lower the costs for the second time.

stari_momak said...

Nice to see the proper plural of stadium. Good on ya!

OneSTDV said...

It's ironic that Greece would go bankrupt over an Olympics they didn't fully want. I believe they really had their heart set on the 96 Games because it was the centennial of the 1896 Games which were held in Athens.

Black Sea said...

According to this source, Olympic Games have proven profitable for several recent host cities:

Olympic Games Profits Since 1984

1984: Los Angeles Olympic Games made profits of US $250 million.

1988: Seoul Olympic Games made profits of US $300 million, a record high for a government-run Olympiad.

1992: Barcelona Olympic Games made profits of US $5 million.

1996: Atlanta Olympic Games made profits of US $10 million.

2000: Sydney Olympic Games Organizing Committee generated an income of US $1.756 billion.

2004: Athens Olympic Games ended in a loss.

headache said...

Greece got into the EU by allegedly fudging the economic numbers in order to meet the entrance criteria. I think this is just superficial face-saving excuse by Eurocrats caught off guard by the current meltdown who badly wanted Greece in for historical reasons. References to the Roman Empire and Greco-Roman culture and allusions of being the new Rome and all that crap. In fact stating that Greece cheated implies Eurocrats were too dumb to figure out a test cheater, so why are they in these posts? Pretty lame excuse.
Anyway, once Greece obtained membership in 2000, there was cash aplenty from the EU coffers so they immediately set about building huge infrastructure projects. Many German companies profited from this coz German companies traditionally have good connections with Greek pols. The buildup to the Olympics was just part of the largesse at EU (German) expense. Now its pay-time and the Greeks are putting on a long face. Apparently Greeks are good businessmen so it may just be part of a long-hatched ploy to get Germany to fund their infrastructure upgrade.

As for the commodities bust: I read on American Goy's blog that oil contracts exchanged hands 27 times, so the major culprits are the gamblers on the exchanges, such as Goldman-Sachs.

ricpic said...

In a country in which the whole point of an education is to amass enough credentials to get a berth on the government roster and then get both hands up to the elbows into the government till isn't bankruptcy inevitable? I'm talking about Greece, not the U.S. Well, maybe both.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they regret starting the whole thing 1000s of yrs ago.

Whiskey said...

The answer is not much Steve. Greece has been in default for half the time since independence in 1832. Greece is one of the most corrupt, tax evading, crony capitalist societies in Europe.

Doubtless this stems from centuries of Ottoman occupation, and before that, Byzantium, which was known for corruption and tax evasion.

Reporting in the FT has shown that Greece systematically lied about its finances to get into the Eurozone in 1992, suggesting that the problem is decades long. Indeed Greece has always been characterized by a corrupt, bloated, government sector that is also incompetent, and crowds out private investment. It is a low-trust society.

Victor Davis Hanson notes that he stayed in a Greek hotel run by one guy every summer for ten years. He asked the guy, who did the landscaping at night, checked people in, cooked the evening meals, and the maid service in the mornings, why he did not hire help.

The answer was, any help he hired would have a bad attitude, be impossible to fire, and would do the minimum possible. Instead he did everything himself, and routinely evaded taxes.

The Eurozone looks like a disaster. Germany and France will be on the hook for not just Greece, but Portugal, and probably Spain (the latter will require HUGE sums). Can Merkel and Sarkozy push that through? Will they even try?

Anonymous said...

The Olympics are like old Queen Elizabeth's state visits. It looks like it is a status symbol that costs more than it is worth. Maybe we should make sure that Saudi get's them every year. Bankrupt that corruptacracy and start over.

Anonymous said...

It was probably good that Chicago lost out.

Bruce Banned said...

Why not just put an end to the Olympics? It's such a huge waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

The book "Soccernomics" had a section discussing the financial impact of hosting a sporting event like the Olympics or World Cup. The general conclusion was that it was almost always a big waste of money, and it will cost South Africa a lot.

I suppose if you believe in Keynesian economics, all the "stimulating of the economy" that such an event does should make it worth it. If you believe in Keynesian economics... (as many politicians find it convenient to do...)

Melykin said...

Maybe we should make sure that Saudi get's them every year. Bankrupt that corruptacracy and start over
--------------------

They'd make all the female athletes wear those long black bed sheets. Do Muslim countries ever have any athletes in the olympics?

kudzu bob said...

Re "stadia" versus "stadiums":

A buddy of mine back in my college days was the son of a tobacco farmer and an elementary school teacher. By dint of being insanely freaking smart, he became not only a superb writer, a Harvard law school graduate, and a hugely successful counsel for various investment funds, but also an accomplished amateur philologist.

When I once asked him what his take was on the question of "millennia" versus "millenniums," he put it with his characteristic parsimony: "Use 'millenniums.' We speak English, not Latin."

I have followed his advice ever since.

TH said...

Doubtless this stems from centuries of Ottoman occupation...

Nonsense. It stems from them being Orthodox Christians. The EU should have remained a Western project. It was a huge mistake to let in Easterners like Greeks, Romanians, and Bulgarians.

headache said...

The Eurozone looks like a disaster. Germany and France will be on the hook for not just Greece, but Portugal, and probably Spain

Whiskey taking swipes at the Germans again. In fact Germany took much less of a hit than the US. Mainly coz its manufacturing sector is still in place. Of course the Euro sucks for ordinary Germans but it was the banks and Eurocrats that badly wanted it. All Euro currency is designated with a special letter marking its country of origin. That was not just put on there for ornamentation. It was a safety valve in case the system implodes. Basically then a German Euro is nothing more than 2 Deutsche Marks would have instant value recognition again.

headache said...

The general conclusion was that it was almost always a big waste of money, and it will cost South Africa a lot.

Nah, South Africa will pass the bill on to the US and EU. Coz they are the former oppressed who are owed, you see.

Eek it's a greek. said...

Greece ought to be renamed Grease. You gotta grease the palms to get things done.

David said...

It's Greek businessmen. GREEK BUSINESSMEN.

Do I really have to say more?

By the way, the Ancient Greeks are long gone.

Peter A said...

Genetically I suspect Greece is a Slavic/Persian country with a thin veneer of Western Europe on top. Have any genetic studies of the Greeks ever been undertaken? Supposedly most of the Greek elite decamped for Constantinople in the late classical period and eventually died out, much as the original Romans essentially died out by the late classical period. The reason Northern Italy, Spain and France have been successful over the last 1500 years is that all three areas were overrun by German tribes in the 5th-6th centuries.

Anthony said...

"Use 'millenniums.' We speak English, not Latin."

As far as that goes, I think if English-speaking people conventionally say "millennia," then that's the English way to say it. If the convention is to say either, then either's fine.

(Does he think we should said "bacteriums" too, instead of "bacteria"?)

Anonymous said...

I don't know if one can determine this, but do the Greeks of today share much, if any, DNA with the Greeks of antiquity?

I have a feeling that centuries of being overrun by Turks and others has left its mark, so to speak, upon the population.

I also have a hard time imagining that a people with the intellect, culture and sophistication of the ancient Greeks could be so f***ed up like the current crop of people who call themselves Greek. Yes they might speak the same language, but are they really the same?

Greece is listed as having an average IQ of 93. That's not terrible, but it's not in the big leagues. I would imagine the ancient Greeks must have been smarter.

I think one might ask the same about the USA. Lately when I walk into my bank's lobby I often wonder about the differences between the majority of customers and our founding fathers. Though they speak English, at least some, one has a hard time imagining these newcomers creating anything like that done by Washington, Jefferson, et al.

Truth said...

"(Does he think we should said "bacteriums" too, instead of "bacteria"?)"

He does make a good point, Bobby.

Gene Berman said...

Melykin:

Some Muslim countries have done fairly well in a few sports, such as wrestling, weightlifting, and some distance events in track.

The wrestlers and weightlifters haven't been Arabs, usually; they've been Turks, Iranians, and from countries that used to be part of the USSR. The runners. I suppose, could be Arabs--they're from countries in North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia, etc.).

Gabbit said...

"I don't know if one can determine this, but do the Greeks of today share much, if any, DNA with the Greeks of antiquity?
I have a feeling that centuries of being overrun by Turks and others has left its mark, so to speak, upon the population."

Greeks of antiquity were not a pure bunch. Greece had been conquering other people and being conquered all through its long history. Greeks weren't only invaded by the Turks but also by the Germanic Franks at one time. Long before that, Persians once conquered parts of Greece, Greeks later conquered Persia, etc.

Anyway, I've seen a lot of Greek people and many of them still have 'Hellenic' features. Ever see Ariana Huffington? Classic Greek features, still very very common among many Greek women. I can spot such Greeks from a mile away. Knew lots of Greek girls in highschool. Very obvious Greek features.

It's possible that the ancient Greeks weren't any smarter than other peoples. Rather, the smart ones among them stumbled upon a way of thinking that made them uniquely and maddeningly creative for a time. But, even here, it was Athens that really made the difference. Most Greek city-states didn't contribute much to arts, politics, culture, etc.

Also, Greek 'decline' isn't recent. After the furious burst of creativity few centuries before Christ, the Greeks never did much of note. The Byzantium Empire lasted a 1000 yrs longer than Rome yet it just rotted and rotted.

Zorba said...

But hey, the Greeks can DANCE!!!!

Anthony said...

Re: Greek genetics,

I don't know, but if you read ancient Greek literature, in parts they make it sound like every second person had "golden" (blond) hair.

patrick said...

"The reason Northern Italy, Spain and France have been successful over the last 1500 years is that all three areas were overrun by German tribes in the 5th-6th centuries."

Well, those areas weren't particularly successful for at least 500 years after the Germanic tribes arrived. Roman Italy, France and Spain (and Muslim Spain at its height), not to mention the Eastern Roman Empire, were a hell of a lot more successful than Visigothic Spain or Carolingian France.

I would suspect that the Greeks were never very "Western European" genetically anyhow. Geographically they are closer to the Near East and even the "Indo-European elite" of the Early Bronze Age were more likely to have come from the Black Sea region than anywhere in northern or western Europe.

kudzu bob said...

>(Does he think we should said "bacteriums" too, instead of "bacteria"?)<

I wish that I had thought to ask him that excellent question.

Still, I am sympathetic to his approach to language, and find it useful.

(You should have heard him carry on after a few beers about what a crock the notion of the split infinitive is. Good times...)

Γιώργος said...

Why speculate on the racial components of modern Greece when you can read about it? Gabbit at least realizes that the ancient Aryan cavalry applied their statecraft on a Pelasgian base.

As for Anthony's observation, the perception, onomastics and translation of color terms is a tricky business. There is a difference between blond and ξανθός.

Vote for Giannoulias.

Γιώργος (with fixed links) said...

Why speculate on the racial components of modern Greece when you can read about it? Gabbit at least realizes that the ancient Aryan cavalry applied their statecraft on a Pelasgian base.

As for Anthony's observation, the perception, onomastics and translation of color terms is a tricky business. There is a difference between blond and ξανθός.

Vote for Giannoulias.

Anthony said...

@person with weird Greek name,

Both of those colors look blond to me. Interestingly, you didn't give a second English word, so are you saying there are two words in ancient Greek for the different colors, and that the one commonly cited is to the latter color, or something like that?

OhioStater said...

Banks have largely abdicated their traditionally paternalistic relationship with customers.

If I try to buy a $250,000 house, but my income is only $40,000 and my down payment is only $10,000, should the bank say "you can't afford it", or should the bank find a way to get the deal done?

In the near term its certainly more profitable to get the deal done, but the long term consequences are disastrous.

It seems like WASPs on balance are very prudent, and the WASP controlled banks of the past didn't lend to questionable borrowers. Scrappy banks such as Solomon and Goldman noticed a market void in areas such as junk bonds and reaped huge short term profits.

Protestants today don't have much influence over the banking system and they're mostly confined to private wealth management firms.

There is a new New York Times article about the Greek crisis; instead of keeping Greece within EU debt limits, Goldman Sachs helped Greece work around those limits.

When your bank says no, we say yes!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html?hp

Anonymous said...

The ancient Greek aristocracy of classical times was different in many ways from today's Greeks. They were fairer, since they were to a large extent of Indo-European/Nordic ancestry. This ancient elite either died out or was assimilated into the masses. Also, many prominent Greek families, who may have been a small remnant of the classical Greek elite, fled to western Europe as the Turks overran the crumbling Byzantine Empire - http://www.armahellas.com/?p=120

Having visited Ellas many times(and being of Greek ancestry), it's a miracle how anything gets done in that country with all the corruption and inefficiency. I honestly believed for a time that the Athens Games were going to get canceled, and so did many Greeks.

Awopbopalubopalous said...

I don't know, but if you read ancient Greek literature, in parts they make it sound like every second person had "golden" (blond) hair.

Greek blonde hair is different from Nordic blonde hair. Scandanavian blonde is silky. Greek blonde is sandy. You can find sandy blonde hair among Albanians, Greek, even Turks.

Also, maybe it varied by city state by city state. Most vase illustrations of Greeks show people with dark hair.
It could be blondes were the minority but favored as special and relatively rare by Greeks. If you go by Mexican TV, you'd think most Mexicans are big tall blonde Germanic types.

Anonymous said...

Irene Pappas and Maria Callas. Very very Greek in looks and spirit.

greek shall inherit the girth said...

Problems Greeks face today are much the same as they've always been. The difference is other parts of Europe are now doing better.

In ancient times, despite all the corruption, craziness, and dysfuction in Greek societies, other parts of Europe were doing worse. So, Greeks long ago looked better by comparison.

But, tons of ancient Greek texts were about how rotten and corrupt Greek society was.
Greeks are not much big on trust; this goes back to the era of city states when each city state guarded its own secrets and power. Even Alexander couldn't much break the Greek way. After he died, the empire he built broke apart almost overnight.

Part of the reason may be Greek ferocity. Greek women are crazy for example. This can be inspiring and awesome, but also obnoxious and ridiculous.

There's a funny paradox. A ferocious people tend to live in less individualistic societies whereas even tempered people tend to live in more individualistic societies. One would think it would be the opposite.

But, because ferocious-tempered people tend to be disruptive and chaotic, they need to be ruled by an iron fist. Thus, hot-tempered Greeks and Sicilians had to be controlled under powerful patriarchal institutions.

Even tempered people--especially Anglos--are less likely to act crazy, so there is less need for overbearing social and political controls over them, thus more freedom for the individual.

Of course, Brits have been acting kinda wild since the rise of punk music, public drunkenness, and soccer hooliganism, and therefore UK is turning into a police state of sorts lately.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't always like this. In 1981, before joining the EU, the country's debt was 20% of GDP. What has happened since?
Well, 'socialism' happened. The Socialists have been in power for 20 years out of the last 28, 1981-1990 and 1993-2004 and they won again the 2009 elections. During their first decade the public debt quadrupled, from 20 to 80%. Greece went to the exactly opposite direction of the then dominant trend of economic liberalisation of Reagan and Thatcher, increasing public expenditure and amassing debts.
The Socialists -led by Andreas Papandreou, an utter demagogue who would put today's Hugo Chavez to shame- nationalised a great part of the industry, while also stuffing the public sector with thousands of loyal party affiliates. The 2004 olympics was a pharaonic project promoted by crony contractors and their puppets in government. It was an economic disaster for the country but it was highly profitable for them.

It may come as a surprise to Americans, but in Greece there isn't actually what you may call a "Conservative Right". The Left completely dominates every aspect of public discourse, the media and the academia. The supposedly right-wing party is a caricature full of weaklings ready to pander the left-wing press and the far-left parties on any given occasion.

A telling example: On December 2008, after the death of a teenager by a police misfire, there was an outburst of riots by a few thousand anarchists/leftists burning and looting city centers across Greece for nearly 2 weeks. The (right-wing)Karamanlis government just stood there watching, and giving specific orders to the police NOT TO CONFRONT the rioters, but leave them "dry out" on their own. All this out of fear of being labeled "extreme rightists" and/or "fascists" (by the neostalinists in the media) -which of course they were called nevertheless.

It is as absurd as it sounds.

patrick said...

"Problems Greeks face today are much the same as they've always been. The difference is other parts of Europe are now doing better.
In ancient times, despite all the corruption, craziness, and dysfuction in Greek societies, other parts of Europe were doing worse. So, Greeks long ago looked better by comparison."

Very true. Greece has a lot of the same problems as other Balkan and Mediterranean societies- low trust, high corruption. Ancient Greeks weren't any more like modern Nordics/Anglo-Saxons than modern Greeks are.

rich said...

Vote for Giannoulias?

Given how ardently Greeks support each other, I'm abstaining from kalamata olives,feta and retsina
'til Nov.

David said...

greek shall inherit the girth said

> because ferocious-tempered people tend to be disruptive and chaotic, they need to be ruled by an iron fist. Thus, hot-tempered Greeks and Sicilians had to be controlled under powerful patriarchal institutions.

Even tempered people--especially Anglos--are less likely to act crazy, so there is less need for overbearing social and political controls over them, thus more freedom for the individual. <

Thus libertarianism's extremely limited appeal, and application.

Anonymous said...

The EU and Greece.

Its a political project beloved of EUnuchs across Europe, the economic case won't stand a seconds inspection. Greece's entry was always going to work, the tests would always be fudged. Sure its all gone belly-up, but everyone can see the project is doomed in practical terms.

I remember in the year before Bulgaria joining, the media earnestly explaining that the Bulgarians had to show they had successfully rooted out corruption to qualify. I had that moment of political clarity, knowing that in 12 months time, Bulgaria would join and the ant-corruption drive would have been deemed successful. Which it duly was.

Anonymous said...

There is a new New York Times article about the Greek crisis; instead of keeping Greece within EU debt limits, Goldman Sachs helped Greece work around those limits.

Those Scots-Irish whizz kids eh?!!

Working to undermine both sides of the Atlantic.

Anonymous said...

Ireland is next? It seems to be in the same bad shape.

Anonymous said...

Ireland is next? It seems to be in the same bad shape.

Wasn't Ireland the posterchild for free market ideologues? What killed the 'miracle'? Free markets or big government?

' said...

...the 1984 LA Olympics, which made a fortune by using old stadia...


Barcelona did the same. Their Olympic Stadium was built in 1929, for the 1932 Games that went to LA.

Manchester built a stadium to attract an Olympics they didn't get as well. So Mancunians have to watch Londoners lord it over them in 2012, while hoping their great-grandchildren will see a Manchester Olympiad after the thing is paid off. (And who's better off-- City, who have to play in it, or United, who don't? NB: United = Yankees; City = Mets, or old Dodgers)

Actually, the best argument for Chicago's bid was that everything was already built. Note, too, that Denver's refusal to build new for 1976 led to reuse of old facilities in both Innsbruck and Lake Placid.

Reg Cæsar said...

...the 1984 LA Olympics, which made a fortune by using old stadia...

Barcelona also vied for the 1932 Games, and built a stadium for it. That saved them quite a bit when they finally got to use it in 1992!

Manchester did the same more recently. Now they have to sit and watch Londoners lord it over them in 2012, while hoping their great-grandchildren will have paid it off when Manchester finally does get to host the Games. (BTW, who's better off-- City, who have to play in it, or United, who don't? NB for US: United = Yankees; City = Mets, or old Dodgers)

In fact, Chicago's best argument was that everything was already built.

Remember, too, that by rejecting new construction, Denver passed the puck on to two sites which made economical reuse of old Olympic facilities: Innsbruck and Lake Placid.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the ethic makeup of Greeks, I found this video apropos.

The Greek actress in this interview, Melina Kanakaredes, tells the blond hostess that the ancient Greeks were blond and that they became dark after the Ottomans arrived.

I'm not saying she is an expert. But I found it interesting that she openly spoke about it.

Here is the video. Go directly to the 10:15 mark and just watch the last 20 seconds or so. The rest is dreck.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnvel7-1mwE

Markku said...

Anyway, once Greece obtained membership in 2000, there was cash aplenty from the EU coffers so they immediately set about building huge infrastructure projects.

Greece joined the EU on the 1st of January 1981.

Testicular99 said...

Those Scots-Irish whizz kids eh?!!

Working to undermine both sides of the Atlantic.


Wrong there. Goldman sachs is totally dominated by the evil Wasp- Harvard mafia, just like Hollywood.

Mencius Moldbug said...

Dimitrios Ioannidis - tanned, rested, and ready!

Anonymous said...

It's not Ioannidis, but a DeGaul that Greece needs. A Sarkozy to say the least.

headache said...

Markku saidGreece joined the EU on the 1st of January 1981.

Yeah, but they introduced the Euro in 2001 which was what I was after. I missed that date by 1 year.

Anonymous said...

Do Muslim countries ever have any athletes in the olympics?

Um, yes, they definitely do. Not a lot in the Winter Games, to be sure, but a few countries did send delegations, including Turkey, Iran, and Algeria.

Ronduck said...

It may come as a surprise to Americans, but in Greece there isn't actually what you may call a "Conservative Right". The Left completely dominates every aspect of public discourse, the media and the academia. The supposedly right-wing party is a caricature full of weaklings ready to pander the left-wing press and the far-left parties on any given occasion.

The US is only a few inches to the right of what you are describing. Your comments about the "right-wing" party in Greece is also a pretty good description of the RW party here.

Anonymous said...

Anna Vissi, Hellenic beauty.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9E3ULigf6w&feature=related