September 11, 2011


Al Qaeda's Failure on Wall Street (Zachary Karabell, 9/11/11, Daily Beast)

The World Trade Center was never seen as an overly attractive piece of architecture, but as a symbol of American economic might, it was undeniably powerful. Never mind that it was built just as New York was imploding financially in the mid-1970s; it still stood as a set of dual icons representing the economic primacy not just of the United States, but of Wall Street and the entire financial industry.

That's what made it such an attractive target for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, just as it had for the like-minded plotters of 1993, who failed to accomplish what those two airliners would eight years later. Strike at the Twin Towers, show their fragility, so the logic went, and you would strike a blow at the financial infrastructure of America, at the hubris of Wall Street, and thereby undermine the ability of the American empire to function. The attack on the Pentagon was against the military might of the United States; the strike against the towers was against the economic.

The logic was flawed. For all the terror of that day, for Wall Street 9/11 was the Day That Nothing Changed.

The attacks and the destruction to Lower Manhattan did lead to a rare shutdown of the markets, which did not reopen until the following Monday. When trading resumed on Sept. 17, 2001, equity markets worldwide plunged--the Dow alone fell 7 percent--but within weeks those losses had been recouped. The exhortations of President Bush that Americans go out and spend, combined with the rapid response of the Federal Reserve and then Chairman Alan Greenspan to slash interest rates, meant that far from plunging the United States further into recession, the attacks may have triggered an economic rebound. The economic contraction that had begun in early 2001 ended in November 2001, two months after the towers fell.

Posted by at September 11, 2011 6:41 AM

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