The economic devastation of Saturday’s powerful earthquake is beginning to come more into focus as scenes like the one above show large areas of damage and destruction. AIR Worldwide is estimating that the economic loss associated with the earthquake could be more than $15 billion. That number tried to estimate damage to not only buildings, but infrastructure, like roads, utilities and airports. It doesn’t take in to account potential lost business by industries big in Chile – copper, agriculture and fishing.
DJN colleague Kevin Noblet is reporting from Haiti with WSJ colleagues. Here are some of his accounts:
Latest Update: It has now emerged that North Korea tested three short-range missiles today in addition to a nuclear device which it detonated underground (which was initially detected as an earthquake; see below.) Markets continue to take the news in stride, with South Korea’s won the main victim and the yen also under pressure, given Japan’s proximity. (That said, markets are thin today because the U.K. and U.S. are on holiday.) Does this relatively unusual cluster of test firings/detonations mean North Korea’s neighbors are in greater danger than before? In the recent past, North Korea has tended to conduct such tests in isolation. The country’s first and only other known nuclear device test was in October 2006, according to DJN. Pyongyang claims today’s device was bigger than the first. A long-range missile was tested in April. At the time, North Korea described it as a “satellite” but various governments identified it as a missile. As governments roundly condemn today’s developments, arms control experts will surely puzzle out the deterrance issue in the context of a political transition under way in North Korea. This WSJ story by Jay Solomon, Evan Ramstad and Peter Spiegel is very illuminating: “North Korea Plans Kim Succession, U.S. Believes.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124304434715249127.html
Earlier Update: North Korea has also test-fired a short-range missile. The WSJ says a statement from the country’s state-run media refers to the government’s ”military first” policy, which is known as Songun. This would seem to support analysts’ views that the North Korean military’s power is on the ascent.
Earlier: DJN’s flashing news that North Korea may have tested a nuclear device. It appears the nuclear test caused rumblings so strong that the U.S. Geological Survey tentatively detected a temblor registering 4.7 on the Richter scale. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency says the Seoul government detected an “artificial earthquake” – suggesting the quake was actually the aftermath of a North Korea nuclear test. The Kospi (Korean stock market index) slid as did the won. The Korean stock exchange is now halted. Continue reading…