All of this is not to discount the direct costs to individuals by temporary, and in some cases permanent, disruption to lives and communities, much of which cannot be quantified. However, when government authorities facilitate rebuilding quickly and effectively, the process of economic renewal, in many tangible ways, can leave communities better off than before.

Factoring in the multiplier effect of $15 billion to $20 billion spent rebuilding yields an economic benefit from reconstruction of about $27 billion to $36 billion. Add to that the gains from more modern and productive capital stock-likely in the range of $10 billion-and consumer and business spending that is only delayed but not permanently lost -- likely in the range of $12 billion -- and the total effects of natural disasters of the scale of Sandy are not as devastating two years down the road.
Professor Peter Morici, of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. Prior to joining the university, he served as director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He is the author of 18 books and monographs and has published widely in leading public policy and business journals, including the Harvard Business Review and Foreign Policy. Morici has lectured and offered executive programs at more than 100 institutions, including Columbia University, the Harvard Business School and Oxford University. His views are frequently featured on CNN, CBS, BBC, FOX, ABC, CNBC, NPR, NPB and national broadcast networks around the world.

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