The 9/11 Legacy

Infographic: 9/11 ranks No. 2. on list of most costly catastrophes worldwide

Daryl Paranada Sep 7, 2011

This week, Marketplace explores the economic legacy of 9/11. One ripple we’re investigating in a story Wednesday on Marketplace by Gregory Warner has to do with how America has changed its priorities around disaster response funding, focusing less of its budget on natural disasters and more on disasters of the man-made variety.

Funding for the agency charged with coordinating disaster response — the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA — took a big budget hit this year after steadily declining from around $80 billion in 2005 to around $30 billion in 2009, according to Department of Homeland Security data. Meanwhile, counter terrorism money continues to increase. As Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels put it, after the attacks, terrorism colored everything. Including the federal budget.

But as we crunched the data on this story, one thing was hard to miss. The numbers show that natural catastrophes have been a much greater financial burden for the world (or at least insurance companies) than man-made catastrophes. As illustrated in this Marketplace Infographic, of the top 25 most-costly insured catastrophes between 1985 and 2010 around the world, 9/11 is the only one not related to a natural disaster. And it doesn’t even include Hurricane Irene and the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Click through for the full-size version to explore the details.

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