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Economic Fallout

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Americans will not spend less and won’t necessarily change their personal behavior apart from cutting down on their flying, particularly over the next few days in the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks. Stock market analysts are also encouraging investors to hold onto stocks next week and not react in fear. Harris Interactive conducted an Internet poll of more than 4600 U.S. adults since Tuesday, which found that only 23% of consumers will spend less and only 19% will keep more cash on hand as a result of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks. Harris did find that 64% would be afraid to fly on an airplane in the next few days and that 37% would avoid flying for the next few months. Only 15% said they would cancel or reduce overseas travel. Analysts are pointing to past declines in market indexes that occurred in reaction to events, that reversed themselves within days or weeks. The NAIC says immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the DJIA dipped 5.9%, but it recovered to its previous level within two days. The Dow dropped 6.5% following Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait but recovered within two days. One of the largest market reactions to a national crisis, a 17.9% drop in the Dow following announcement of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, also was short-lived. Credit card stocks may be impacted by lower charge volume but there is evidence that more consumers are revolving balances this year than last year. This is the first time since 1991 that the number of revolvers has increased, according to CardData’s mid-year issuer data. Rising interest revenue and declining merchant revenue could be off-setting trends that stabilize credit card related stocks for the remainder of 2001.

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