Obama Economic Bubble: Inauguration Sparks Sales

02/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

Walking around the nation's capital these past few days, one gets the sense that Barack Obama is single-handedly keeping the economy afloat. He's not President yet, but because so many individuals, businesses, and organizations are attempting to profit off his election.

At the B. Dalton's book store in Washington D.C.'s Union Station -- the hub for rail travelers in search of reading material - there were at least 35 books dedicated to or concerning Obama and his wife Michelle. They encompassed all genres: politics, photography, humor, even business. ("Barack Inc: Winning Business Lessons of the Obama Campaign" by Barry Libert and Rick Faulk.)

One book promised readers the chance to achieve Obama-like oratory: "Say it Like Obama: The Power of Speaking with Purpose and Vision" by Shel Leanne.

Another offered a sort of localized window into understanding the president-elect: "The Dream Begins: How Hawaii Shaped Barack Obama" (Stu Glauberman and Jerry Buris).

And yet, if nearly 40 books about the incoming president seemed like a bit of overkill, the folks at B. Daltons were actually worrying that it wasn't enough. Saying that they had to replenish the supply every three or so hours, management estimated that 45 percent of business over the past two weeks was tied to Obama literature.

On the streets of the city, meanwhile, Obama memorabilia was hard to avoid. Outside the staging area for the Sunday's opening ceremony, attendees could purchase Obama earrings, pins, calendars, t-shirts, magnets, hats and posters. One stand was offering small bottles of Obama perfume -- which a customer affectionately called Obama sweat. Another had a cooler filled with Obama bottled water.

"Buy Obama water," he barked out to the passing crowd. "It tastes like wine."

Small-bit entrepreneurship aside, the inauguration itself is a major economic enterprise. As reported by ABC News, donors and the government will spend $170 million to officially transfer power from Obama to Bush. The actual swearing-in ceremony, meanwhile, will run for $1.24 million.

It's the security, parties and countless Porta-a-Potty rentals that really run up the bill. The federal government estimates that it will spend roughly $49 million on the inaugural weekend. Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland have requested another $75 million from the federal government to help pay for their share of police, fire and medical services.