WASHINGTON, September 11—Although hard to estimate, the economic losses from today’s attacks on New York City and Washington will be enormous. New York, in particular, is not only huge city—with some 8 million people—but a center of national wealth-making.
The World Trade Center was the hub for multinational corporations from all over. The New York Stock Exchange, nexus of the world economy, is just half a mile away.
Within minutes of this morning’s attack, stock trading was suspended until further notice, setting off losses. Minutes later, authorities shut down exchanges all across the world. The market that sets foreign exchange rates for major currencies is also in New York, and also closed.
“Foreign financial markets are already trembling,” reports Stratfor.com, an independent intelligence site. “The Paris exchange immediately plummeted 7.4 percent, the London exchange 5.7 percent, and the Frankfurt exchange 7 percent. Oil traders are betting that the United States will seek retribution against a Middle Eastern target; that has pushed crude oil prices up to a nine-month high.”
By early evening, there were reports of panicked drivers queuing up for gasoline around the U.S., with prices hitting $5 a gallon.
Stratfor.com further reports that the disaster will affect the insurance industry heavily. “For instance, Westfield America Inc. signed a 99-year, $3.2 billion lease on the now nonexistent World Trade Center Building only last month,” the site notes. “This is merely one example of the size of the insurance claims that will be filed in coming weeks. Staggering claims could be filed by the companies that were tenants of the World Trade Center. Meanwhile, liability insurance for canceled airline flights will be paid out, and life insurance policies for the uncounted dead also must be paid.”
The airline and travel industries stand to get hit as well, now that terrorists have decided to turn commercial flights into deadly weapons. U.S. fighters are reported to have shot down a hijacked commercial plane that was carrying American civilians, people will think twice before flying again.
These events may already have caused great losses for businesses. British Airways and the Hilton Group both suffered losses amounting to one-fifth of their stock value within hours of the attack, according to Stratfor.