It was only a matter of time before "bad" economics would show itself in the wake of the recent events in New Orleans. But here is what some "economists" have been saying at CNN Money:
J.P. Morgan senior economist Anthony Chan agrees that higher energy prices will curb both regional and national economic growth in the near-term.
"I think a 0.2 percent decline in economic growth due Katrina's impact on oil and the regional economy is a realistic assumption," Chan said. Longer-term, Chan believes hurricanes tend to stimulate overall growth.
Said Chan, "Preliminary estimates indicate 60 percent damage to downtown New Orleans. Plenty of cleanup work and rebuilding will follow in all the areas. That means over the next 12 months, there will be lots of job creation which is good for the economy."
Prof. Doug Woodward, with the Division of Research at the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, has researched the economic impact of hurricanes.
"On a personal level, the loss of life is tragic. But looking at the economic impact, our research shows that hurricanes tend to become god-given work projects," Woodward said.
Within six months, he expects to see a construction boom and job creation offset the short-term negatives such as loss of business activity, loss of wealth in the form of housing, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism revenue in the Gulf Coast states.
In a note late Tuesday, Standard & Poor's estimates that Katrina could "shave a few points off our forecast of 3.7 percent growth."
Among the industries affected, trade, tourism, agriculture, and construction (Florida's largest industries), as well as Louisiana's energy-related industries will be hurt in the third-quarter, the firm said.
"At the same time, repairs to hurricane-related damage in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and other regions affected by the storm should boost GDP in subsequent quarters," S&P analysts wrote in the note.
"Natural disasters bring in a lot of money from the outside to help in the rebuilding," he said. "The rebuilding boom will generate incomes. Insurance money and federal relief money will pour in. This happened very quickly in Florida last year," Woodward said. "Give it a year. We'll see positive economy results maybe by the third-quarter of next year."
Didn't Bastiat and Hazlitt straighten us out on broken window fallacies? Unfortunately, as Hazlitt pointed out economics is difficult to communicate to the everyman because of the chains of reasoning required. But for people trained in economics?! I have to say in my own mind the connection to my earlier entry on macroeconomics and data is the only way one can start to make sense of the existence of such blatant falsehoods in economic analysis persisting. Rather than economics students reading boring textbooks perhaps they (and in many instances their professors) should read Frederic Bastiat.
Thanks to Rob Jester and David Prychitko for the pointer on this story.