How Did 9/11 Affect the Economy & Financial Markets: Alan Greenspan on Monetary Policy (2001)




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Published on Nov 26, 2014

The opening of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was delayed after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower, and trading for the day was canceled after the second plane crashed into the South Tower. NASDAQ also canceled trading. The New York Stock Exchange was then evacuated as well as nearly all banks and financial institutions on Wall Street and in many cities across the country. The London Stock Exchange and other stock exchanges around the world were also closed down and evacuated in fear of follow-up terrorist attacks. The New York Stock Exchange remained closed until the following Monday. This was the third time in history that the NYSE experienced prolonged closure, the first time being in March 1933 and the second a few months at the beginning of World War II.[2] Trading on the United States bond market also ceased, with the leading government bond trader, Cantor Fitzgerald, based in the World Trade Center.[2] The New York Mercantile Exchange was also closed for a week after the attacks.[3]

The Federal Reserve issued a statement, saying it was "open and operating. The discount window is available to meet liquidity needs.".[4] The Federal Reserve added $100 billion in liquidity per day, during the three days following the attack, to help avert a financial crisis.[3] Federal Reserve Governor Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., the only Governor in Washington, D.C. on the day of the attacks[citation needed], has described in detail this and the other actions that the Fed undertook to maintain a stable economy and offset potential disruptions arising in the financial system.[5]

Gold prices spiked upwards, from $215.50 to $287 an ounce in London trading.[2] Oil prices also spiked upwards.[6] Gas prices in the United States also briefly shot up, though the spike in prices lasted only about one week.[3]

Currency trading continued, with the United States dollar falling sharply against the Euro, British pound, and Japanese yen.[2] The next day, European stock markets fell sharply, including declines of 4.6% in Spain, 8.5% in Germany,[2] and 5.7% on the London Stock Exchange.[7] Stocks in the Latin American markets also plunged, with a 9.2% drop in Brazil, 5.2% drop in Argentina, and 5.6% decline in Mexico, before trading was halted.[2]

Insurance losses due to 9/11 were more than one and a half times greater than what was previously the largest disaster (Hurricane Andrew) in terms of losses. The losses included business interruption ($11.0 billion), property ($9.6 billion), liability ($7.5 billion), workers compensation ($1.8 billion), and others ($2.5 billion). The firms with the largest losses included Berkshire Hathaway, Lloyd's, Swiss Re, and Munich Re, all which are reinsurers, with more than $2 billion each in losses.[8] Shares of major reinsurers, including Swiss Re and Baloise Insurance Group dropped by more than 10%, while shares of Swiss Life dropped 7.8%.[9] Although the insurance industry held reserves that covered the 9/11 attacks, insurance companies were reluctant to continue providing coverage for future terrorist attacks. Only a few insurers offer such coverage, and it is limited and very expensive.

Flights were grounded in various places across the United States and Canada that did not necessarily have the operational support in place, such as dedicated ground crews. A large number of transatlantic flights landed in Gander in Newfoundland and in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with the logistics handled by Transport Canada in Operation Yellow Ribbon. To help with immediate needs for victims' families, United Airlines and American Airlines both provided initial payments of $25,000.[10] The airlines were also required to refund ticket purchases for anyone unable to fly.[10]

The 9/11 attacks compounded financial troubles that the airline industry already was experiencing before the attacks. Share prices of airlines and airplane manufacturers plummeted after the attacks. Midway Airlines, already on the brink of bankruptcy, shut down operations almost immediately afterwards. Other airlines were threatened with bankruptcy, and tens of thousands of layoffs were announced in the week following the attacks. To help the industry, the federal government provided an aid package to the industry, including $10 billion in loan guarantees, along with $5 billion for short-term assistance.



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