April 20, 2010

The Political Economy of Natural Disaster: from Iceland’s volcanic eruption to USA’s Hurricane Katrina

The recent failure of a centralized government-controlled response to a natural disaster led to a shutdown of the European airspace and thousands of stranded travelers across the world. If you followed the news, you know that a volcanic eruption in Iceland generated clouds of volcanic ash and blocked the airspace between Europe and other regions. You should also notice that the volcanic-transportation crisis also revealed a failure of a centralized European transportation system to deal with any kind of natural disaster effectively. The whole concept of Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based agency that coordinates the European air traffic, has been undermined when European countries started lifting their air travel bans one by one. Thus, Iceland's volcanic eruption reminded us once again the folly of the centralized government control over business activity and its efficiency in responding to the natural disaster. That's why I want to recommend you reading a new book, The Political Economy of Hurricane Katrina and Community Rebound, published by Edward Elgar that focuses on the political economy of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina by critically examining the public policy environment that led to both successes and failures in the post-Katrina disaster response and long-term recovery. Building from a perspective of the Virginia School of Political Economy, this book lends critical insight into the nature of the social coordination problems disasters present, the potential for public policy to play a positive role, and the inherent limitations policy makers face in overcoming the myriad challenges that are a product of catastrophic disaster.

Contributors include a number of distinguished established economists as well as outstanding young economists: E.M. Agemy, J. Bleckley, Emily Chamlee-Wright, Daniel D'Amico, Joshua Hall, Steve Horwitz, Andrew Kashdan, Leo Krasnozhon (humbly yours), Peter T. Leeson, Adam Martin, E. Norcross, Daniel Rothschild, Petrick Runst, Emily Schaeffer, David Skarbek, Anthony Skriba, Russ Sobel, and Virgil Henry Storr.

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