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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

The attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., 11 September 2001 Explosions Cripple American Economy 010911 The attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., targeted obvious symbols of American prestige and power: the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The attackers achieved a crippling blow against Americas economic infrastructure as well. New York City is one of the richest cities on the globe, independently raking in more annually than all but the worlds most advanced states. In 1998, the citys budget exceeded that of some major countries, including Russia. But New York is more than just a wealthy city of 8 million people. It is the financial capital of the worlds largest economy. As the significance of what happened in New York sank in across the country, Americas smaller exchanges closed down one by one. But it is the New York Stock Exchange that moves global financial events. Minutes after the attacks, authorities shut down the entire island of Manhattan, virtually sealing it off from the rest of the world. The NYSE, located a mere half mile from the collapsed World Trade Center, has suspended operations until further notice. That action alone set off secondary tremors in stock exchanges the world over. By 11 a.m. CST, all active, major global exchanges were registering sharp losses. Even with the ongoing global slowdown, Americas market capitalization is larger than its massive $10 trillion GDP and more than all other financial centers combined. A fair portion of the value of that capitalization is sure to evaporate over the next few days. The seemingly invincible dollar has lost its footing as well. After regularly gaining against major currencies for the past few years, the dollar dropped 1.8 percent against the euro and 1.5 percent against the yen. Since most of the worlds $1.1 trillion in daily foreign exchange trades take place in New York - and those markets are closed - this drop is a mere glimpse of what is to come. Foreign financial markets are already trembling. 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. The infrastructure that supports high-powered business is also either crippled or locked down. Officials at the Sears Tower in Chicago, keenly aware the tower is the countrys tallest building, have ordered an evacuation. And the offices in the 110- story World Trade Center were the backbone of many financial powerhouses such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, China International Trust, Yamatane Securities America and Farmers Union Control Exchange. New York City plays host to more multinational corporation headquarters than any other city in the world. As the financial disaster ripples outward, the insurance industry will be in for a very rough time. For instance, Westfield America Inc. signed a 99-year, $3.2 billion lease on the now nonexistent World Trade Center Building only last month. 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 direct impact on American companies cannot be estimated until the exchanges reopen, but European insurers are already rattled. An index that follows large European insurance companies fell more than 10 percent within an hour of the World Trade Center collapse. The carnage to come in American markets will be harrowing. Beyond New York, the Federal Aviation Administration has shut down the countrys entire commercial air network, canceling all civilian flights. With an average daily capacity of 55,000 flights, the daily loss to the industry ranks in the hundreds of millions. Industry confidence is sure to plummet to historic lows. Preliminary reports indicated that U.S. military fighters shot down another suspected hijacked passenger plan outside of Pittsburgh. Though the report remains unconfirmed, the chance -- however remote -- of the government shooting down civilian passengers would certainly put a damper on an airline industry only recently recovered from a wave of mergers and price wars. Related industries, such as tourism and shipping, will suffer equally. Again, European markets are leading the fall. British Airways and Hilton Group both shed more than one-fifth of their stock value within hours of the attacks. Life will not return to "normal" soon for the airline industry. More than 2 million passengers travel through U.S. airspace daily, but the FAA is often accused of designing security regulations more to produce a sense of security than actual safety. A complete security overhaul must be conducted before the air routes can be safely reopened. Even a partial fix will take days, if not weeks. Back in New York, the cordon around the shattered remnants of the World Trade Center -- until this morning the nexus of the financial world -- will remain for days as rescue workers set to the grim task of picking through the rubble. The economic damage -- the full extent of which will not be discerned for months -- will be equally grim." TARGET="_new">">

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