Economic gains and losses in Houston from KatrinaFirst, a disclaimer: Katrina was clearly a great and costly tragedy for the country, and Houston is not out to "profiteer" from it (regardless of what the NY Times thinks). But there are definitely different local economic impacts around the country, and it's fair to try and assess those.
Tom Kirkendall has his thoughts, building on economist Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution. I tend to agree with Tom's thoughts, but disagree with Tyler's. His gains seem about right, but not his list of losses:
- Local taxes will rise to pay for shelters and the like.
- Hotels, sports stadiums, and other public facilities will experience crowding.
- Refugee issues will move to center stage; this will command political attention and perhaps creative divisiveness, hindering potential improvements.
- The Red Cross and FEMA will pay directly for shelters, or seem likely to reimburse us. Certainly no tax increase in the offing.
- Again, FEMA will reimburse for public facilities, and paid hotel nights are a net gain, not a loss, as are filling empty apartments
- Don't really see anything like this happening. Indeed, the Chronicle today talked about the great cooperation among local political leaders.
This is not to say there aren't a whole host of costs we will absorb that the feds might not reimburse (education? medicaid?), but looking at Tyler's original list, the gains heavily outweigh the losses from a local perspective.