Harvey and Irma economic hit could total $200 billion: Moody's

Key Points
  • Mark Zandi at Moody's Analytics estimates damage from hurricanes Irma and Harvey to total between $150 billion and $200 billion.
  • In addition, the economy could suffer another $20 billion to $30 billion in lost output.
Irma threatens Florida's tourism industry

The combined destruction of property from hurricanes Irma and Harvey could range from $150 billion to $200 billion, according to a preliminary estimate from Moody's Analytics.

Moody's Chief Mark Zandi, noting that the estimate could change substantially as more information becomes available, said the U.S. economy could suffer an additional $20 billion to $30 billion in lost economic output from the two storms. As a result, Moody's shaved its third quarter forecast for gross domestic product by half a point to 2.5 percent.

Both in property damage and lost output, the Moody's estimate puts the combined costs of the two catastrophic storms on par with Hurricane Katrina. Moody's had previously estimated the total cost of Harvey between $86 and $108 billion. Irma is estimated to cost between $64 and $92 billion.

Moody's expects fourth-quarter growth to be boosted by rebuilding efforts from the two storms but notes in its report, "The economic fallout from the storms critically depends on how much insurance money and government aid flows to the impacted regions, and how quickly these funds get there."

Over time, Zandi expects the combination of government assistance and insurance payouts to equal the total economic cost.

The critical factors in determining the impact are how quickly the refining business in Houston and the tourism industry in Florida get back on their feet. Another important factor is labor constraints in the already-stretched construction industry.

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