WASHINGTON (AFP) - Unprecedented
air-borne terrorist attacks that toppled New York's World Trade Center
now threaten to deal a powerful blow to the tottering US and world economies,
experts said Wednesday.
"It raises the likelihood greatly that we will have at least a couple of quarters of negative growth".
Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey, agreed that confidence would take a pounding.
"One might expect confidence will plunge much like it did when the Gulf crisis began in August of 1990," he said. "The weakness might be more severe because this impacts Americans more directly, it is on our soil
Not all economists were so gloomy.
"There is always speculation that these disasters have extreme economic consequences, but they rarely do," said University of California professor Edward Leamer.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Harvey Pitt said in a television interview that he expected the stock markets to reopen Thursday. An SEC official said no final decision had been taken.
The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq exchanges alone had a combined average daily turnover of 1.89 billion shares in 1999, with a value for the whole year of 19.9 trillion dollars
The terrorist attacks would be the costliest man-made disaster in US history, the Insurance Information Institute said.
According to the institute, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing caused 510 million dollars in insured losses; the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing resulted in insured losses of 125 million and the Los Angeles riots of 1992 resulted in insured losses of 775 million, the costliest man-made disaster until now.