This retrospective review will attempt to write dispassionately and objectively about the events of September 11 effect on the U.S. economy. The loss of lives and property on 9/11 was not large enough to have had a measurable effect on the productive capacity of the United States even though it had a very significant localized effect on New York City and, to a lesser degree, on the greater Washington, D.C. area. It was initially thought that aggregate demand was seriously affected, for while the existing data showed that GDP growth was low in the first half of 2001, data published in October showed that GDP had contracted during the 3rd quarter. We now know, based on revised data, this is not so. At the time of 9/11 the economy was in its third consecutive quarter of contraction; positive growth resumed in the 4th quarter. This would suggest that any effects from 9/11 on demand were short lived. While this may be true, several events took place before, on, and shortly after 9/11, that made recovery either more rapid than it might have been or made it possible to take place. Thus, it can be argued, timely action contained the short run economic effects of 9/11 on the overall economy. Over the longer run 9/11 will adversely affect U.S. productivity growth because resources are being and will be used to ensure the security of production, distribution, finance, and communication.
CRS Report for Congress, RL31617