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Hurricane Sandy’s economic damage felt in far-away India

New York: Superstorm Sandy will ultimately be known as one of the costliest economic disasters ever experienced in the US. An estimated $50 billion will be lost as a result of the storm, says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

Analysts are trying to put a number on Hurricane Sandy’s potential cost to the United States, with a disaster-modeling firm predicting $10 billion to $20 billion in damages, a University of Maryland economist estimating $45 billion, and a financial analyst suggesting the storm could cost $10 billion per day in lost productivity. That’s just in the United States, but there’s reason to believe that this hit to the world’s largest economy could resonate farther out  — as far as India.

“The Indian market on October 29 ended subdued, amid a slump in trading volumes, following weakness in the global markets as investors braced for the impact of Hurricane Sandy,” the Business Standard’s India service reported at the end of trading on the Indian stock market. A senior treasury official said the rupee could suffer more depreciation on account of the shutdown in the US.

Outside of information technology and stock markets, the Indian aviation industry could also be exposed. The storm has prompted the cancellation of over 18,000  flights so far. Both the Wall Street Journal’s India service and the New York Daily News  report that international Indian flights are “severely disrupted.” In absolute terms, India is probably just one of many countries to have its aviation revenue hit by the storm.

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on small businesses in New York and New Jersey, keeping employees and customers away from work. For many small businesses, opening depended on whether employees lived close by or could work remotely. Businesses vulnerable to wind and water damage and power outages were forced to close. The storm also ruined business trips, meetings and presentations.

Flooding and power outages remained common around the city and subway and other transit systems remained shut down because of the damage caused by the killer superstorm.

New York’s three main airports – JFK, Newark and La Guardia – all suffered flooded runways and were closed for two days. More than 18,100 flights have been cancelled, according to FlightAware, the air tracking website.

Four days after Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of the New York City subway system, commuters are able to get back on the trains. But the city's roads remain congested as efforts to drain flooded railway tunnels continues.

The recovery from Hurricane Sandy remains a long, hard effort in New York and New Jersey. Four days after Hurricane Sandy’s disaster, about five-and-a-half million people till remain without power, primarily in the states of New York and New Jersey.

In New Jersey, which suffered the worst damage, the city of Hoboken is pumping millions of gallons of polluted water from its streets. Tens of thousands of people lost their homes and livelihoods in the state's beachside communities.