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Sandy shakes all sorts of money-related things up

By Dian Vujovich

There’s no messing with Mother Nature. She’s strong willed, enormously powerful and can wreak unimaginable havoc in minutes when her heralding winds and waters are combined.  Hurricane Sandy has shown us how Mother’s impact can destroy almost everything in her path. What’s left in the aftermath of her destruction begins with rebuilding and ends with money. Or is it begins with money and ends with rebuilding? Whatever. The costs of a hurricane—excluding the irreplaceable loss of lives— are enormous.


It has been guestimated that Sandy is going to be the most expensive hurricane ever in U.S. history. Given the size of the storm—and its timing— I’m figuring its costs will make the costs of others look like chump change.


As an FYI, since 1970  of the 10 most expensive hurricanes the least costly was Irene in 2011, at $5.3 billion. The most expensive was  Katrina, in 2005, at $74.7 billion.


There are, however, a host of  expenses and surprises that come as a result of a serious storm that take a while to count.


Forget that the kids are out of school and most really happy about that. And that in preparation for a storm, lines at places like Lowe’s, Home Depot, pharmacies and grocers show that plenty of money gets spent. After the storm, new lines will forma and show the same. As a result, publicly traded stocks in a variety of industries from the airlines to insurers, home suppliers and builders to generator makers, pharmacies to grocers etc., will all be impacted to one degree or another.


And then there are the holidays. How Sandy’s wrath will  effect holiday spending is a blog for another day.


Something Sandy-related I don’t recall ever reading about before is the announcement from Citibank, Capital One and Chase that they’re waiving a bunch of their fees for customers who live in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut through Wednesday. That’s tomorrow and  means things like late fees on credit cards, loans, mortgages, and those for overdrawing your checking accounts won’t be imposed.


That was big of them. No word on whether other major institutions will follow suite. The really important thing to remember, however, is that these freebie days end tomorrow, Oct. 31, on Halloween.


Speaking of Halloween, it’s the last trading day of the month and with the markets closed on Monday and Tuesday, it’s anybody’s guess how they’ll perform.


If history is any guide, Sam Stovall, S & P Capital IQ chief investment strategist, said his research shows that three months after  the 13 most disastrous hurricanes since 1965, the S&P500 had gained an average of 3.9 percent. Over six months, is gained an average of 5.8 percent.


But not a one of those storms were as huge as this one.


As always, we’ll have to wait to see.

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