Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Tallying the Cost of the Iowa Flood

Thomas Hart Benton

As the flood waters in Iowa drain southward to its destination in the Mississippi River, new sites and new cities are threatened by levee systems that cannot cope with the extraordinary scope and power of nature’s wrath.

Insurance companies will give estimates about the extent of the dollar damage the flood has claimed. The number I have seen for Cedar Rapids is $700 million. I don’t know how they derive that number. I believe it to be replacement value of insured property and assets of insurance in force. That’s a big number but it does not account for uninsured property, loss of potential income from jobs and small business revenue, loss of municipal tax revenue and the intangible but very real cost of lost opportunities due to the allocation of time and treasure to rebuild and repair damaged and lost assets.

CNN this morning was reporting that The University of Iowa assembled a rescue party to recover $400 million worth of art from its famous museum located in one of its flood ravaged buildings. For all intents and purposes the Hawkeyes campus is shut down and some believe that a number of buildings cannot be salvaged. How do you put a price on learning? How will this effect the decision of prospective students to choose the University of Iowa for their college education? What impacts will this have on the precarious economics of state funded college institutions?

Though we can easily see how Iowa is burdened with the extraordinary financial cost of this terrible event, all Americans will be impacted as a result of this flood. For example, railroads have scaled back schedules due to flooded lines. This will impact commerce of businesses waiting for deliveries and sellers looking to complete the book to bill cycle.

Something that will become more apparent as the summer progresses is the toll the flood will have on rising corn prices. Due to crop destruction it is estimated that the price of corn will rise by 9%. This is a cost that all American’s will unfortunately share equally and will only exacerbate the problem of rising inflation.

When the levee breaks you got no place to stay and escape the harm of this costly flood.

Risk: agricultural futures, municipal finance, transportation, infrastructure, University of Iowa, inflation, opportunity cost, fine art

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June 16, 2008 - Posted by | commodities, community, economics, environment, folk, infrastructure | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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