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Hurricane Sandy: Economic Impact Could Pound Main Street


Hurricane Sandy has caused the New York exchanges to shut down, but a trader never stops looking for the next move. I keep getting asked for trades off the storm. The truth is, there aren't many. Public companies will effectively have this event expunged from their records as far as analysts are concerned.

Home Depot (HD) for example, will do a monumental amount of business, but having a massive storm ravage the eastern seaboard is a one-off event. Wall Street isn't going to project great sales in the coming quarters based on Sandy. (See Related: Earnings & Guidance Disappoint Wall Street: Are Consumers Toast Too?)

There's one question that matters and it's already on everyone's lips: Is the money spent today going to come out of holiday budgets?

There has been an orgy of spending on the East Coast this weekend. Some of the spending that went towards flashlights, duct tape and galoshes will come out of the kids' stockings. It's just a matter of how much.

The little guy "mom and pops" are the real economic victims of Sandy. No one is going out to eat or see a movie these days. Appeasing Wall Street is easier than satisfying a bank demanding rent from a bar or restaurant. Defaults on small business loans will rise, barring some form of relief from the government. Spikes in hours for utilities workers will be offset by layoffs at the lower end jobs that make up a larger part of the economy. The impact will be transitory, hopefully, but the jobs at risk are on the lower-end, bleeding edge of the economy. (See Related: Stronger Than Expected 3Q Growth Weak by Historical Standards: David Rosenberg)