According to a recent working paper, there is no noticeable impact of presidential inaugurations on the DC economy.
Why? Explanations include the substitution effect: people spending in the DC economy are just shifting their consumption from someplace else. And “crowding out”: lots of visitors to a city mean other events and activities don’t take place (e.g., others decide to avoid the city due to crowding and traffic congestion).
The authors cite other mega-events – political conventions, the Olympics – as also generating less economic impact than anticipated. This makes me wonder if the competition to host mega-events is a cousin of the edifice complex. Host it, and they will stay.