The Economic Impact of September 11th
Clearly, september 11th was an act of brutality that left the world first in shock, then in anger, an act of sudden violence that without warning stole a parent from 10,000 children and that shattered the illusion that we in North America are somehow insulated from external attack.
In response, we have borne witness to an uncompromising resolve that more than matches the initial shock. The world has come together in an uncommon and irrevocable commitment to eliminate the threat of terrorism. The physical assault levelled against us is being met by an international coalition of nations, faiths and force that will not fail.
For each of us september 11th was, above all, a tragedy in human terms. For the terrorists, however, the aim of their criminal act was not only the destruction of life; they were seeking to destroy our way of life. The terrorists did not choose their targets randomly. New York’s world trade center stood at the heart of the international financial district. It was a symbol of accomplishment and confidence. It was targeted for that reason. The terrorists sought to cripple economic activity, to paralyze financial relations, to create new barriers between economies, countries and people.
Our goal in response must be even more direct and even more purposeful. It must be to deny those who traffic in terrorism and hate advantage in any measure and in any theatre, be it military or economic. For the major industial nations, the slowdown we are experiencing is a matter of real concern. For developing and emerging economies, however, the consequences could well be devastating. Jobs might not just be lost temporarily, they could disappear forever. Incomes might not just fall, they could vanish for good.
Let us be clear, it is the poor primarily who bear the long-term consequences of terrorism. For this reason, all of us must dedicate ourselves to the cause of economic security, just as surely as we have dedicated ourselves to the cause of physical security. In that context, there are considerable grounds for optimism.
First, strong fiscal and economic policies have left most industrial nations better positioned to withstand economic turbulence than they have been in many years, even many decades.
Second, central banks have moved rapidly to maintain liquidity in markets and to bring intrest rates down.
And third, the IMF, the World Bank and other international institutions stand ready to provide resources to help those most in need.
That being said, however, if we are translate all of this into widespread economic recovery, a greater effort than that generated so far will be required, one that gathers countries in common cause and coordinated approch. Now is not the time for defeatism, but neither is it a time for rose-coloured glasses. The campaign for economic security must involve swift and steady response to new realities.
Part of the terrorist agenda is to see governments turn borders into barriers, to erect walls behind which people live in fear and economies stagnate. To retreat from today’s integrated world economy would be a terrible mistake. It would be to concede victory to criminals. And we cannot allow this to happen. For decades nations, large and small, rich and poor, have laboured to promote a freer and orderly flow of goods and services throughout the world. Why? Because doing so is crucial to the development of their economies and the well-being of their people. The fact is, we are all sovereign nations, but our relations are intertwined, our fort
unes are linked, and our economies are interdependent.
The Canada-U.S. border is a perfect case in point. Every single day roughly ＄2 billion worth of trade takes place between us. And millions of families in both countries depend on that trade for their livelihood. The notion, therefore, that by slowing our borders to commerce we might somehow close our countries to risk is mistaken, it it a non-choice.
For this reason, the governments of Cananda and the United States, through the use of new technology and as importantly, innovative approaches, must work to make our border both more secure and more open. It is not simply a question of getting back to normal. It is recognizing that in the era of “just in time” inventory, what was normal between our two countries is no longer good enough. And for the world as a whole, the solution begins with the warning that while security of people must be our priority, we must not allow security of borders to become the new non-tariff barrier.