Would a Cali Quake Sink the Economy?

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Back in February, Change.org wondered what the U.S. would look like if an earthquake killed nearly 3% of its population, as happened in Haiti. Now, in the wake of the Chile earthquake, business blogger Douglas McIntyre is asking a slightly different question, and a much less hypothetical one. Much of urban California lies along fault lines, and experts think a big earthquake on these faults fairy likely in the near future. How much would that hurt the economy?

California has 37 million residents, more than 12% of the US population. Its GDP is nearly 14% of the nation's. A huge quake in the state, particularly one in Los Angeles or San Francisco could cost tens of thousands of lives and shut down a large part of the US economy. A blow to the nation's GDP during its current fragile state of recovery could drive the country back into recession. A natural catastrophe in California would certainly stunt its economic activity which is over $2 trillion each year.

Clearly, the scenario is worth considering. What would happen to the economy if an earthquake were to strike California tomorrow?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.