Rosie On Sandy: One Economist's Realistic Hurricane Post-Mortem

Tyler Durden's picture

Tired of idiotic "expert assessments" how the destruction in the aftermath of Sandy is good for the economy and "creates wealth" (just ask these people or these how much wealthier they feel with their house halfway still underwater, or with not a bite to eat)? Then read the following brief summary by David Rosenberg what the real and full impact of Rosie on the US will be: "the surprise for Q4? A negative GDP print."

From David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff


As I read and digest the reports estimating the damage from the devastating storm. I sense that there are far too many economists out there who
are relying too heavily on past major hurricanes as they draw their conclusions from the current experience with Sandy.

I am concerned that as is the case so often, complacency has set in. The consensus view of a mere decimal place impact on Q4 real GDP growth from the storm seems like a pipe dream to me and has not been carefully thought out, in my opinion. Of course the devastation to the capital stock across so many dimensions affects net worth and not GDP, which measures the flow of spending in the economy, but it is indeed the spending portion that has also been seriously impaired, and a good part of it is not coming back and the inevitable pickup in spending of generators. sump pumps, cement and plywood is not going to be enough to provide an offset, at least over the next few months. Logic should prevail more than history here, because there is no appropriate historical comparison, and yes, I include Katrina in that assessment.

Yes, there will at some point be a revival in building activity and repair damage that will support spending and real GDP growth to be sure. But something tells me that this process may be delayed somewhat as the claims get tallied up and the fallout from the disaster continues. That should help out first quarter activity but from a lower level and, of course, assuming that the economy doesn't fall off any fiscal cliff.

The problem is two-fold. One is magnitude. The other is the demographic involved. With regards to magnitude, we are talking about 60 million people being affected, not three, or four or five million spread across corn and cotton fields in the south. There has not been such devastation affecting so many participants in the U.S. economy before. Were talking about New York. New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia here — not Waco. When such masses do not go to the office, they then don't do what they usually do. which is buy their coffee at Starbucks. They don't line up for pizza and sushi. That spending is not coming back. They are eating at home, and pulling out the box of macaroni and the can of tuna fish they bought three months ago. Then there are movies, sundries and even vacations that are not coming back any time soon into the spending sphere. And the cabs that drive people or the sales people at the clothing store that rings up your hill that have been out of work for the past few days aren't making the money they need to buy burgers and shakes and whatever else. So the ripple effect or what economists call the multiplier also has to be taken into consideration here.

And a few days in a quarter when expressed at an annual rate is actually a much bigger deal than a few decimals on a GDP growth figure. The consensus, I think, is in for a big surprise. And keep in mind that the downtrend in mortgage apps, the general weakness in the regional manufacturing surveys, the stalling-out in the improving trend in jobless claims and the fact that chain store sales in October were already running below plan, reveals an economic backdrop that lacked momentum even before the storm took hold.

The other factor I mentioned was the demographic. We don't know how many Starbucks or Coaches there are in Waco or Galveston, but there are 255 in New York City Its not just size. It's also tastes. We are talking about the storm hitting the most free-spending consumers in America. And that is also because these are the states with the highest per capita incomes — the major states of the Northeast have on average household spending power that is 40% higher than in the deep south where storms and floods have historically been prevalent (again rendering comparisons with the past nearly totally useless when it comes to estimating near-term GDP impact). These are the same northern dilettantes who the Confederates wanted to secede from nearly 150 years ago and these high-income/high wealth folks love to shop — not only do they have the means compared to their southern brethren, but their marginal spending propensities are huge and, as such, the impact on GDP from this perspective cannot he over- exaggerated, especially the likely depressing effect on luxury goods and services.

Of course, there is this other little problem that in many cases, basic insurance coverage is not covered for floods. So either Uncle Sam ponies up here or all the economists hinging their forecasts on a boom in building activity may end up being frustrated by the length of time it takes to get started. In the meantime, the spare room in the basement at cousin Jack's place is going to be just fine (and Jack's 30-year old boomerang kids just got kicked to the recreation room) and his wife's meat loaf is going to replace the traditional one night a week out at Il Mulino.

And don't forget one other factor that I did not mention — which is the timing. Normally these major weather shocks happen in August or September. We are already in November and on the precipice of the most important time of the year for the retailing sector, which has already staffed up in anticipation of good tidings this year. This prognosis may have to be revisited because the temptation to shop at Tiffany's may be just a little bit tempered by the repair bill to your principal residence and it is also highly doubtful that cousin Jack is going to buy a tree for his family to put in the living room and one for yours in the basement.

So the surprise for Q4? A negative GDP print. The next question is whether there will be a Q1 rebound. Remember, as I mentioned yesterday, three of the major four ingredients to the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) recession all peaked in tandem in July. And it would be a slam-dunk four if the service sector had already followed goods-producing payrolls on the road to perdition.

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WALLST8MY8BALL's picture

A rising tide crushes alot of boats!

TwoShortPlanks's picture

Prediction: Next FOMC Meeting word cloud #1......Sandy, #2......Rebuild, #3......stimulate.

Shlameel Bernank: "*sigh of relief* Phew! least we've got something to blame all this bad data on for the next few quarters." Never miss an opportunity to exploit a good's better than a war coz you can blame it on...God!

I wonder how Monsanto's progressing with 'Project Cloverfield'?!

By-the-by, all this fucktardness about Sandy being wonderful for the US economy can easily be translated to...a lower Gold price (cross your fingers). I need to buy soon and I'll take a Sandy Discount if offered.

American Dreams's picture

You know I love Rosie. Fantastic guy and a great resource but if thinks the system at hand will allow for a negative GDP prior to the dollar loosing reserve status he needs to stop hangin with the McKenzie brothers.


vast-dom's picture

re: the Tiffany's point: my friend works at Cartier on 5th Ave and she tells me sales are very brisk just 2 days after the storm. I realize that Tiffany's is like the poor person's Cartier, so make what you will of this.

TwoShortPlanks's picture

Ummm, poor chicks want to look good for the end of the world party?

The month after 9/11 memberships at my local gym jumped by 100%. In a recession bicycle shops make a killing on the top end bikes.

In bad times it's all about trying to feel better, booze, fitness, bling (from Tiffany's to Audi's to iPads), whatever floats your boat.

dugorama's picture

the argument is no different from war is good for the economy.  defense spending is good for the economy.  etc

oh_bama's picture


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haskelslocal's picture

Tyler, Please consider deleting this advertisement garbage link.

NotApplicable's picture

Don't worry, Uncle Sugar will open the spigots, fiscal cliff be damned!

CPL's picture

It's insane the way these fools on tv are talking, like they can "click" a button to speed up building.  People are going to get hurt or dead with the politicians controlling this situation.  It's almost time for the Army to step up here instead of anciliary services.  Why hasn't that happened yet?  The Town should be empty while this stuff is getting assessed...which would take years...rebuild decades...


Fucking hate every pin stripe prick mouthing on TV right now about how it'll be done quickly.  It simply cannot be done "quickly", they do not grasp how big of a machine NYC is.  It's a completely man made island, 200 years old.  There are sewage systems from the original colonies in's huge and largely sort of documented...sort of.  This isn't a Lowe's home project.  It's New York City.  The biggest megalopolis on the planet...this is going to end in tears, something people don't need more of right now.

It's fixing the biggest machine in the world, when every fault tolerance is tested in every system on that island with the exception of sea water because that would be just awful and never happen in a million years would it?


...I gotta go for a walk, CNN could not get my blood pumping more than a Braveheart Battle scene.

Induced Coma's picture

CPL you are on your game today. Your posts are informative and on point. I think there will be a lot of people looking back on this one saying : "who could have seen it coming..?" And I'm not talking about the storm here. I'm talking about the seriousness/fallout of the aftermath...



CPL's picture

Because I love history NYC is a big piece of modern history.  I'm an Engineer and love machines.  I love NYC.  It's dirty.  Smells.  Dark.  Weirdly over designed and complex.  And really friendly.  

I cannot explain how nice people were to me there during for the years it was chugging.  I spent a months living in the Brooklyn Marriot and the Wall Street Holiday Inn.  Had no fucking clue where my ass was with a map and verbal instructions.  Got lost a lot.  Folks that looked like thugs in my Canuck eye, were generous and very warm.  People dressed up nice were nice too, literally had a really nice lady give me a wee tour on the way to work one morning (not in that way).  Learned a bit of Italian, lots of spanish, a finer appreciation of Jazz I had never had before (I'm a Canuck Techno Hillbilly), Art, some really amazing bookstores...I had a great time.  I do enjoy my hills, valleys and farms more in Canada but I can say that NYC changed many things about my perspective of the world. 

To this day I have friends that I still chat with, they are very good people that work very hard for their daily bread.  Two things concern me.  


First...I can't get a hold of them yet and I hope so soon. - If anyone in NYC silicon alley, get a hold of your old Canuck friends, we can make room.  Bring the family, double up boys and girls in the beds.  It'll get sorted out once you get here and you can catch your breath with friends, take a shower, clean clothes, etc..."luxuries" now.  Fucking sad.

Second...It's concerning me quite a bit that engineering disaster guidelines are not being followed or any type of DR plan, you don't get to keep your engineering status without it.  All anyone is seeing right now are political dipshits sucking camera cock.  

What I would expect to see is two fortresses of troops and national regional guard called in and getting water and food on the ground and moving everyone off the island.  Then nobody but Military and every available engineer on the bench in there with Primary FieldEng team doing asset and inventory.  Second team of engineers in behind the first for recommendation for change or add to the infrastructure.  Then build a project office to start the endless ordering of materials.  Secondary team doing only safety reviews acting as the staging group to the Asset and Change groups.  Military has the equipment to haul big problems out, not just people, US Corp has alot of great tools in their ready workbench to move buildings if they need to.  There is technology available.  Just not the time these dolts on TV are talking about.  NYC is big.

The direction we are going is broken and dangerous.  NYC is so weird and special there are specific design teams to build parts only for that city, it's requirements are so bizarre and broad and unique it's uncanny how the engineers get it to work.  If I took mechanical engineering as a student it's the place I would pay to work to learn.  It would be depressing to leave though knowing that you would never work with the largest living machine on the planet.  The Large Hydrogen Collider is the biggest, but it's use is measured in microsecond of use for weeks of operation.  NYC is in use 24/7/365 and is continuiously being rebuilt in a micro scale and repaired.  This time though, nobody can trust any system completely.  Salt water and copper anything is such a bad mix.  

First the wires will never be the same again, they have to be replaced.

Second byproduct of salt water and copper anything can turn into Copper Chloride with enough electricity to catalyse it...remember the place is flooded, live lines everywhere.  Copper salts are very poisonious, Crusaders would put this shit in muslim wells in the middle ages as a trenching tactic...anycase that's another subject.  They would put it in a well because its impossible to get out of a well.  You have to brick it all in and dig again.  In NYC's case.  Tiny enclosed space bathrooms, wrong balance of air in the pipes and it's an instant gas chamber on top of the participant's gas.  All of it preventable.  All of it, not some, all of it.  There is time enough to get people out of there without further risks.  That city is useless without it's operating system, the population.


Simply put, nobody should be on that island right now. 

fonzannoon's picture

I will give yuo two examples of where it's at CPL. I just spoke to my Uncle in Westchester. He is an eclectrical contractor. He is the guy you need out there. He has about 10 trucks. As of right now he has no ability to get gas. He went to his local guy to hook him up and the guy was gone. He is shut down. Done. That is happening all over. This is happening everywhere. I am the other example. I am self employed and can work from anywhere. I want out of here. My mother in law Lives a ways away from this mess, but a tank full tank of gas will get you there. My wife's job has everyone convinced it is business as usual. So my wife has been burning gas in our other car the last few days. They have a meeting in Midtown on Monday and my wife expects to be there. I am playing along right now and keeping an eye on things. If I don't see plenty of gas stations up and running smoothly saturday my wife will accidentally get knocked unconscious and wake up at her mother's house a few hours later. I'm not kidding.

CPL's picture

I can get a hold of friends in NJ and they are out of gas as well, Truck drivers are refusing to go over the bridges because of the endless rush hour and the very real possibility of not having gas to get back...or worse stuck on one of the bridges.  The refineries are offline until the engineers pass the inspection on them, so expect all gas to be rationed for a couple of weeks.  


Sucks.  I admire the civic duty of your wife, but I would get the hell out of town for a couple of weeks.  Make up a family emergency or something.  Get her Mum to call and talk to her.  Mum's and daughters rarely have nothing to gab about.  I'm sure you could get her to coax her over for a bit.  Mums are good that way.  Either way when work crews come through and the timing of replacements in a task that huge.  It would make for a lot of annoyances.  Convince her to go watch a web cam.  People are going to show up, not like OWS Student organisers taking a face full of pepper spray.  

That type of meeting will attract is everyone.  Count on everyone at that meeting pissed, scared, hungry and tired.  You and your wife should be as far away from that as possible.  NYC is also a very well armed town and all it takes is one nutter.  Just a single loon with an axe to grind is all it takes.

fonzannoon's picture

I hear you. I actually want to wait a day or two because the traffic is awful right now and bridges etc are a mess. My thinking is in a few days less people will be on the road once they start running out of gas or get smart about what they have left. My wife ( I love her) it's not about civic duty with her. She just does not see this for what it may be. My thinking is why take the chance? Either way I will make the call while I still have the resources to make a call. A lot of people are already stuck.

CPL's picture

Options are all that matter.  Stay safe bud.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

CPL: Thank you for sharing your knowledge and personal insights. It is the type of thing that one will never get from news stories, and I appreciate it. Please update regarding your friends there.

fonz: Your concerns for the safety of your family are justified. It is not paranoia, it is wisdom and good judgement, especially the point about not wasting fuel. Keep a close eye on your car; the fuel shortages will soon lead to people stealing gas from cars, and if they can't siphon it, they'll punch a hole in the bottom of your tank to collect it. The last thing you want is to be stranded.

CPL makes a good point about conspiring with your mother-in-law to get your wife out of there. Above all, If something doesn't feel right, follow your instincts and get out immediately. Please keep us posted on your situation.

Dawnofinsanity's picture

Thank you friends for sharing your thoughts and experiences on what is really happening in NYC rather than the rosie perfumed covered BS of all of the major media outlets. It amazes me the brainwashing trife and how the world feeds on it.    

Stay safe everyone.

phranq's picture


maybe you can conspire with your mother-in-law to talk your wife into leaving the area? make it an early Thanksgiving visit :)

Questan1913's picture


"It's insane the way these fools on tv are talking,...."

Yes, I will take your word for that and what about the millions of addicted viewers who are the only support of this dysfunctional medium?  What is it that keeps bringing them back for more?  Their act of viewing is what makes these telecasts viable economically.  Why do they keep returning again and again to something they profess to hate?  What is the source of this apparently uncontrollable compulsion to participate in this "insane" mendacity?

Ness.'s picture

You're wrong.  Billions of dollars of damage to the East Coast is Bullish!!  The algos told me so this morning.


HAL9000 is alive!!

ebworthen's picture

"Road to perdition" about covers it.

krispkritter's picture

 "Road to Sedition" ought to undo it...

PUD's picture

47 million have been on food stamps for years and it's made no impact...that and Fed's Rosengren calls for QE3 until unemployment falls to 7.25% basically make yet another doomsday call by Rosie (who I like by the way) moot

Praetorian Guard's picture

I have a feeling Xmas is going to be a BIG FAILURE this year, seasonal adjusted employment, either perm or temp is going to be negative. I wonder how many people actually had bonifide flood insurance? How many will the ins co's tell to go pound sand? Interesting...

PLove's picture

Disaster Capitalism - when failure is more profitable than success.


Sandy is Disaster Capiatalism's biggest success since 9/11.

Being Free's picture

I couldn't finish reading this past the 4th paragraph. 

Rosengren is a fucking puke, who ought to be dragged by a rope tied to his balls (if he has any) through the rubble of a Texas hurricane.

Urban Redneck's picture

Perhaps if Southerners weren't so damn good at getting oil refineries and pipelines back on-line in a timely fashion he wouldn't be so confused... It would be an ideal time for an un-neighborly oil boycott of any place north of the Mason-Dixon line to drive that point home.

Dr. Sandi's picture

That's the kind of caring and sharing that makes America what it is today.

duo's picture

You heard it here first.  Obama retroactively forces insurers to cover flood damage.  Property insurance rates double overnight.  The uninsured in the blue northeast get their flood damage fixed and the flyover states pay for it for generations.

fonzannoon's picture

I think that is probably true. I also think it is bullshit. But stop it with the northeast stuff. I live on Long Island. I live inland enough where I did not have a drop of water in my house. I choose where I live for this reason. One of my best friends lives right off the water. His house is shot for the 2nd time in 2 years. But it will get paid for it and more. It pisses me off. But the Northeast are healthy people compared to the fatasses in the midwest and south ( I hate sweeping generilizations, but am just addressing it similar to how you did to make a point) and my health insurance premiums go up every year because of their fatasses. I would love nothing better than to have all types of insurance based specifically on each persons individual circumstances. Bring it. I would love it.

Orly's picture

Why don't you just say, "Negroes and their chitlin-lovin' asses," and cut straight to the chase, you're so ballsy?

fonzannoon's picture

You are the racist. I don't care what color the fatasses are. My money is green that pays for them all. Do you care what color the dumbasses are whose hampton's home your future premiums will go to support? Does it matter if it's P Diddy or Eminem?

Orly's picture

I thought you said bring it.  Call a spade a spade.  Everyone can read between the lines...

fonzannoon's picture

i called a spade a spade, you are obviously racist. money is one color to me, and it rules the world. thats just the truth.

Acet's picture

The point being: there are assholes and fuckers amongst us, no mater which group you belong to, and more often than not everybody else ends up paying for their fucked-up actions, opinions and/or lifestyle.

Blind group loyalty just protects the sociopaths, lazy, assholes and parasites within each group (and you can be pretty damn sure those fuckers won't return your loyalty).

Evil Bugeyes's picture

I'm not sure that healthy living equates to lower medical costs. My chain-smoking somewhat-overweight grandfather died of a sudden heart attack in his mid 60's. His medical costs were virtually nil. But my grandmother lived to 99 and needed long term care and other expensive medical treatment in her final years. Pretty much all paid for by the government since she had outlived her assets.

Ballin D's picture

The detail that you are overlooking (assuming grandmother and father were born around the same year) is that medicine advanced for four decades.  Today, a 60 y/o overweight chain smoker would likely incur incredible medical expenses before passing.

duo's picture

It will be the Obamacare of property insurance.  Covers fire, flood wind, your electricity, roof repairs, landscaping, theft, riot, you name it, and you HAVE to buy it or pay a huge fine.

sitenine's picture

Houses under water...where have I head that before? 

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Underwater houses are underwater.

akak's picture

The eternal liquid nature of US Citizenism strikes again.


(I eagerly await the comments of our dear dishwashing friend on this subject.)

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

akak said:

I eagerly await the comments of our dear dishwashing friend on this subject.

It'll probably be a burning brain variant of his ant and grasshopper story after he gives it a good spin on his crackpotter's wheel:

Peter Pan's picture

This disaster is just another unfunded liability. A logistical nightmare and a spanner of mega proportions.

God bless the Plunge Protection Racket Team for holding the show together.

Orly's picture

Captain Ramptastic...

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

...and the Salted Earth Cowboy.

Orly's picture

The "machine," as Rosie says is not just a small, egocentric island with a poor sea-wall system.  The storm stretched from South Carolina into Connecticut and the megalopolis in between is the real machine.  Therein lies the real problem.

Millions of people affected along the eastern seaboard of the United States cannot just pick up and help their neighbours because they are the people who also lost a lot in the storm.  When a storm hits Texas, we can expect Mississippi to help them and vice versa.  Where is New York City supposed to look for help?  Atlantic City?  Philadelphia?  They have their own problems, thanks.

The recovery will be slower than people imagine because their densely packed neighbours have also been affected and it wouldn't surprise me that not too many good neighbours would be keen on a rush to help New York just because it's New York.  I know, shock, right?

You can kind of hear it from New Yorkers already: "But we're New York!  We're way more important than you!"  I do hope this helps them get over this idea that everyone will always been there to help them in their hour of need just because they "are" who they are.

fonzannoon's picture

Where do you live Orly? What are you basing your observations on? New York is too busy tearing itself apart to give a shit about what people outside think of it. Brooklyn is flipping out on Manhattan. Westchester is flipping out that manhatten is getting all the attention too. Long Island is completely fractured and Staten Island is gone. Again I am not asking for sympathy or compassion. I have little myself. If you move to an area that is subject to an ass kicking by mother nature then don't cry about it when it happens. But I can assure you the people who are actually in deep shit don't give a fuck about what anyone else thinks. They are a little jammed up right now. Please tell me where "you can kind of hear it from new yorkers"?

Orly's picture

From your very words:

"Brooklyn is flipping out on Manhattan. Westchester is flipping out that manhatten is getting all the attention too. Long Island is completely fractured and Staten Island is gone."

Thanks for the help in proving my point.  Lines for three hours to get on a train in New Jersey.  No gas there, either.  Lights out, towns full of sand.  Don't hear anything about that from New Yawkuhs, do we?  It's all about me, me, me.

Have a look.  It's all over the evening news; all about the fire in your life is all over the evening news.

Answer: Houston.  Yeah, that Houston.  Katrina, Rita, Ike.  You know...and that was just the past five or six years.