|The president even cut his vacation short!|
Insured damages from the storm will likely range between $2 billion and $3 billion, and total losses will likely be about $7 billion, according to preliminary estimates from Kinetic Analysis Corp., a consulting firm.
Both figures are lower than had been expected, suggesting that the storm poses little threat to the nation's $14 trillion economy.
Some economists said that, as with past hurricanes and earthquakes, the recovery could end up boosting growth in the coming months. Demand for building repairs might help the depressed construction industry, for example.
"Irene left several places with black eyes, but it doesn't seem to have delivered an economic knockout," said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody's Analytics.
In the short run, the costs will grow as storm-ravaged areas deal with lost business, dislocated workers and transportation delays - damage that will take months to understand. And in some areas, the impact will be measured in lost tourist dollars, canceled flights and shuttered stores.
Irene slammed into a region that's vital to the economy's health. The mid-Atlantic and New England account for about 16 percent of the nation's economic output and about 14 percent of its workforce, Sweet said.
President Barack Hussein Obama, D-Kenya, issued a statement late today from the White House, taking full credit for the potential disaster being averted. "The lives lost and the property damage is a huge tragedy, but it could have been a lot worse if I hadn't jumped into action when I did," he told us.
"I literally saved thousands of lives by coordinating a massive relief effort through FEMA and taking other necessary measures. This is in stark contrast to how President Bush mishandled and bungled Hurricane Katrina in 2005."
|Mathews always maintains his objectivity|
"I can't imagine how any sensible person would vote against him in next year's election. First he caught Osama bin Laden, and now he brought us through this terrible hurricane safely."
"My leg is literally tingling with joy."