The destruction in productive capital can easily mean a hurricane has a net negative economic impact, and not just on wealth but on the flow of economic activity. The positive economic impact of a hurricane comes from households and businesses stocking up on consumption goods and purchasing new capital, perhaps to replace old capital, e.g. buying a new sub-pump because the old one is worn out. This is why a hurricane that is expected to be huge but turns out to be much smaller is the most likely to have a positive economic impact: spending increases but capital is not destroyed.

An important question is how much of the spending will just be short term shifts from the next few weeks into today, as in the case where households stocked up on foods and will eat it over the next few weeks. I think households and business have a lot of what you could call small capital and inventory that just sits around for a long-time, like flashlights and candles, and if this is economic activity shifted forward it is likely to come from farther in the future, making it more likely to have a positive economic impact.

Another thing to consider is prevented economic activity, like restaurant and movie visits pre-empted. Or, say, entire cities being shut down. Here again, the best case scenario is the hurricane is very small.

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