Japan Disaster Hits Global Markets

A jittery world economy felt even more deeply on edge in the wake of tragedies emanating from Japan's north coast, including a catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and threat of nuclear meltdown.

A jittery world economy felt even more deeply on edge in the wake of tragedies emanating from Japan’s north coast, including a catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and threat of nuclear meltdown. In Japan itself, stocks on the Nikkei 225 index plunged more than 10 percent on March 15.

Though the following day the Nikkei closed 5.7 percent higher, residual worries were still being felt around the world. Both European and U.S. stocks tumbled on March 15, with a 3.2 percent drop in Germany, 2.5 percent drop in France and 1.4 percent drop in Britain. The U.S. stock market saw an overall drop of 1.7 percent.

What role does real estate play in Japan’s economic recovery? As it turns out, it could be quite a significant one. According to analysts, damages could total anywhere from $125 and $200 billion – and that equals a lot of reconstruction. Experts project a rebound later this year as that reconstruction boosts economic growth.

That plan isn’t foolproof, though. Look at the Kobe quake of 1995, to which many parallels have been drawn. While reconstruction of course occurred, and did lift economic tides, the boost from building showed up later than expected in economic indicators.

Thus, it’s not an issue of real estate coming to save the day. That said, reconstruction does have the potential to be the boat that lifts all tides. With an estimated $108 billion in reconstruction costs, there is money to be made. There are, however, many happier ways in which to make it.