Hurricane Matthew Is a $15 Billion Threat Headed to Florida
Comment of the Day

October 05 2016

Commentary by David Fuller

Hurricane Matthew Is a $15 Billion Threat Headed to Florida

Here is the opening of this worrying report from Bloomberg:

Hurricane Matthew has thousands fleeing the U.S. Southeast where it’s expected to batter the coastline and threaten electricity supplies to more than 1 million people. Potential losses are seen as high as $15 billion.

Matthew will bring 120-mile (193-kilometer) winds to the Bahamas starting Wednesday, along with flooding rains and storm surges that could push the ocean 15 feet (4.6 meters) above high-tide levels, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a 4 p.m. New York time advisory. The Category 3 storm closed the Buckeye oil terminal in Freeport, Bahamas, and could disrupt oil shipments along the U.S. East Coast.

The National Weather Servicewarned that winds, heavy rain and storm surge could kill, wash out roads, cut communication links and cause outages lasting weeks. Evacuations could push storm damage to $10 billion to $15 billion mainly in losses related to economic disruption, said Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research in Savannah, Georgia. Jonathan Adams and Jeffrey Flynn, analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence, projected losses to be closer to $5 billion, with Florida bearing the brunt. 

“The big thing is that the Northeast gets spared, which is good and bad because they actually needed the rain, and the Outer Banks too,” said Evan Duffey, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Regardless, the Bahamas and Florida are going to see a deteriorating situation throughout the day. Landfall is still possible in Florida.”

David Fuller's view

Hopefully, the worst forecasts will not be realised.  However, significant damage in Florida and neighbouring states would very likely lower the USA’s 4Q GDP prospects.  That could also create another hurdle for a generously priced US stock market.  Rebuilding efforts should provide a stimulus for 1Q 2017.  

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