Friday marks 19 years since the United States suffered the most devastating terrorist attack in our history, an event that still has ramifications in our country and around the world.
One of the enduring lessons of 9/11, however, is that despite the horrible losses of that day and its lingering impact on our national psyche, the attack failed to achieve one of its intentions: the destruction of the U.S. economy.
While specific industries, such as travel and insurance, and the geographic areas around the attacks suffered the most dramatic setbacks, the ultimate economic impact was muted. By the end of 2001, the Gross Domestic Product had increased by 1 percent over the previous year. The Pentagon was rebuilt and eventually Freedom Tower rose from the ashes of Ground Zero.
In thinking about this anniversary, I’ve wondered what lessons we can draw from 9/11 as we navigate through our current crisis.
Earlier this summer, an article from McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm, talked about how the past could point the way to economic recovery. Whether the crisis was a recession, an attack or an environmental catastrophe, it said, there seemed to be three common themes in successful economic recoveries:
“First they prioritize human welfare and human capital. Second, because crises tend to accelerate preexisting economic trends, the government responses that are effective often take that into account and plan long-term policy accordingly. Third, the most effective planning for longer-term economic recovery usually starts early, often alongside acute crisis-relief efforts.”
We’ll be looking for all three of these elements as Congress and the White House work to hash out a new stimulus plan in the coming days, particularly for those pieces that will help build public confidence.
But we’ll also be watching for how we, as a society, continue to respond to this crisis. Coronavirus caused unprecedented upheaval but it’s also unleashed an unprecedented willingness to adapt and innovate.
In fact, every time we’ve endured a crisis in the past, our nation has shown an amazing resiliency that’s been reflected in our economic recovery. There’s no reason to think that this time will be any different.
Just this quarter ECoNA has received almost a dozen inquiries from companies that are looking to the future and feel it might be in northern Arizona. Historically, that would be a great number for our region at any time. The fact that it’s happening in the middle of a pandemic is just one more sign that we are poised for a recovery.
In the meantime, however, we need to do the things that will keep COVID-19 at bay as we wait for improved treatments and a vaccine to be developed and distributed. So keep wearing those masks, keep practicing social distancing, and keep the faith. We have no doubt that our economic resiliency will win out once again.