posted on Sep, 3 2005 @ 07:20 AM
This is an interesting article on the longer term economic impact of Katrina--
[QUOTE]The ports of South Louisiana and New Orleans, which run north and south of the city, are as important today as at any point during the history
of the republic. On its own merit, the Port of South Louisiana is the largest port in the United States by tonnage and the fifth-largest in the world.
It exports more than 52 million tons a year, of which more than half are agricultural products -- corn, soybeans and so on. A larger proportion of
U.S. agriculture flows out of the port. Almost as much cargo, nearly 57 million tons, comes in through the port -- including not only crude oil, but
chemicals and fertilizers, coal, concrete and so on. [/QUOTE]
[QUOTE]The problem is that there are no good shipping alternatives. River transport is cheap, and most of the commodities we are discussing have low
value-to-weight ratios. The U.S. transport system was built on the assumption that these commodities would travel to and from New Orleans by barge,
where they would be loaded on ships or offloaded. Apart from port capacity elsewhere in the United States, there aren't enough trucks or rail cars to
handle the long-distance hauling of these enormous quantities -- assuming for the moment that the economics could be managed, which they can't be.
[QUOTE]The focus in the media has been on the oil industry in Louisiana and Mississippi. This is not a trivial question, but in a certain sense, it is
dwarfed by the shipping issue. First, Louisiana is the source of about 15 percent of U.S.-produced petroleum, much of it from the Gulf. The local
refineries are critical to American infrastructure. Were all of these facilities to be lost, the effect on the price of oil worldwide would be
extraordinarily painful. If the river itself became unnavigable or if the ports are no longer functioning, however, the impact to the wider economy
would be significantly more severe. In a sense, there is more flexibility in oil than in the physical transport of these other commodities. [/QUOTE]