Is your glass half empty of half full?

Will the London 2012 Olympics prove to be  a colossal waste of money, when we can least afford it, or a great opportunity to stimulate a struggling economy, when it needs it most?

The UK economy has had a very bumpy ride over the past couple of years, and there have been plenty of businesses suffering during the recession. Of course, this has had an impact on the London office rental market – you only have to look at our London office rental guide to see how rents have come down since the credit crunch and financial crisis of 2008. When times are tough, businesses are less likely to take risks, to expand into new office space. You’ll find plenty of economists who will tell you were are not over the worst of it, that recovery will likely be more painful than recession, or that the recent round of public spending cuts will lead to – whisper it – a double dip recession.

I am an optimist by nature. I believe in the power of positive thinking. That’s not to say that I’m a grinning idiot – and that by thinking good thoughts I can somehow wish away all the nasty things in the world. Bad things do happen – life is full of ups and downs, and without the downs we wouldn’t appreciate or even recognise the downs. However I am firmly of the belief that it’s how you respond to life’s downs that’s important – a positive mental attitude will see you though most of life’s challenges, and the learning experience will leave you far better placed to meet the next challenge.

Far be it from me to question well-qualified economists, on the prospects for our economy in the next few years. However I believe that positive thinking has a massive part to play. Economic fortunes are undeniably linked to that nebulous concept – confidence. Collective optimism amongst consumers, businesses, investors and government is surely the lynchpin of economic growth. And conversely a gloomy outlook is never good news for the economy.

Which is why I was heartened to hear about the latest BBC/Mori poll indicating increased support amongst Londoners for the Olympic Games compared to four years ago. One in three people felt more positive about London 2012 now than in 2005, while 54% had not changed their views.

My colleague, Bruce Hazelton recently talked about why he felt London 2012 would be success, and urged us all to ignore the the national tendency for pessimism: the naysayers claiming that the Games will be a huge waste of money, especially in these times of austerity. My personal feeling is that the Games have come at a perfect time for London and the UK as a whole. Lord Coe recently told David Bond, the BBC’s sports editor, that without the Games, the British economy would have missed out on a major stimulus at a time when it needed it most, thousands of jobs for local workers would not have been created or contracts won by British businesses, and that there would have been less incentive to deal with the shortage of housing and sporting facilities in east London.

But more than that, it is the collective feelgood factor that a successful London Games will create, so important in these challenging times; a return to a can-do mentality, and crucially a return of confidence that better times lie ahead, providing the catalyst for economic growth.

Disagree with me? Wishful thinking? Cloud cuckoo land? Feel free to comment below…