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Evaluating Major Events and Avoiding the Mercantilist Fallacy


  • The author is also a part-time economic advisor to the NSW Treasury and has benefited from comments from Treasury officers, notably from Richard Cox. The author is also grateful for comments on an earlier draft of the paper by Peter Forsyth, Peter Dixon and a referee. However, the views expressed in this paper are entirely the writer’s responsibility.

Peter Abelson, HO4 Merewether Building, Cnr Butlin Avenue & City Road, Camperdown, NSW 2006, Australia. Email:


This paper reviews various methods for evaluating the economic impacts of major events such as World (Catholic) Youth Day and the Football World Cup. The paper recommends cost–benefit analysis, which is surprisingly rarely used for such evaluations. A computable general equilibrium (CGE) model may provide estimates of national or regional output or consumption impacts. But CGE models are not usually designed to estimate very short-term impacts on economies or welfare effects, allowing, for example, for labour opportunity costs and non-market effects. A case study based on the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix supports these observations. The paper also discusses and dismisses various other evaluation methods such as input–output or economic impact analysis and injected export expenditure that typically exaggerate the benefits of export income (the Mercantilist Fallacy).