Charlie Stross on Katrina economic impact questions

The actual estimates for insured structural damage caused by Hurricane Katrina are currently around US $25-30Bn. The current loss of life estimates are in the hundreds (although I'd be unsurprised if the eventual death toll does not eventually top 9/11 by quite a margin). But the economic damage from closing the Port of Southern Louisiana for up to three months is huge -- plausibly equal to 5% of the US balance of trade with the rest of the world. I can't put a figure on that total, but I'd be surprised if it isn't an order of magnitude more than the $25-30Bn insurance costs, and possibly even higher than the cost to date of the Iraq war and occupation ($200Bn). A couple of hundred billion here, a couple of hundred billion there -- pretty soon we're talking real money.

What are the likely consequences (locally and globally) of blowing a 5% of GDP sized hole under the waterline of the US economy?