This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

How They (And You) Make Money Off Disasters

BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- Especially in light of fatalities in North Carolina and Virginia, it is painful for many to think disasters such as Hurricane Irene carry an upside.

That's not so for many people, from those grieving to those who lost homes or boats or face huge repair bills. Insurance companies similarly will lose.

But the reality is that one result, and possibly the only silver lining, will be much-needed work for contractors, carpenters and electricians needed to mitigate damage from wind and water. Such repair work and prevention would have been even greater had an earthquake the same week on the East Coast -- centered in unlucky Virginia -- been even stronger.

Another beneficiary of devastating weather are all those supermarkets and retailers who, in the run-up to this and other storms, clear their shelves of bottled water, duct tape and canned goods.

It's a truism: Tragedy and disaster hurt many, but can profit a few. Nature's fury, war and terrorism will always make some fortunes and boost returns for investors. Disease may sicken and kill us, but benefits hospitals, drug companies, insurers and those who invest in them.

Author Naomi Klein coined the phrase "disaster capitalism" to summarize the rush for profits amid catastrophe and war. In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, she compares disasters and conflict with IPOs that set the stage for revenue. The declaration of war in Iraq meant money for support, security and reconstruction efforts contracted to private companies, many of whom lobbied for invasion leading to the ongoing conflict.

Is there a conflict for investors who profit from human misery?

Ultimately, that depends on one's own moral compass. Wall Street is always a dog-eat-dog world with consequences investors may not realize. A play on Apple (AAPL) can be a bet against Samsung, Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT). An investment in Ford (F) or JetBlue (JBLU) can work against GM (GM) and Southwest Airlines (LUV). As one company falters in the shadow of another, is the investor role partly responsible for layoffs -- indirect pain, but pain nonetheless?

The following are ways some benefit from human misery and tragedy:

1 of 6

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs