Friday, 9 May 2014

Christchurch reconstruction an stock market stalled

I am very busy at the moment, on the other side of the world. I'm visiting Christchurch (NZ). Devastated by its earthquakes it is unrecognizable. Rebuilding is painfully slow. We have spoken with people who have had their lives turned upside down, but most of those we have met are in the process of pulling the pieces back together. Their descriptions of their experiences are terrifying. The worst quake lasted for about 40 seconds but in that time rocking walls and falling furniture convinced them they would die. It was bad in the open too. Cars bucked and liquefaction made roads impassable. Buildings collapsed and were rendered piles of rubble in seconds.  And then there was the immediate aftermath when each survivor wondered if she was alone. The the next few hours were spent trying to discover the fate of their dear ones. Were they trapped, or worse, in other parts of the city. Phones did not work well so long walks across the city were the only way to find out for sure.

Recovery is moving on at snail's pace. An explanation offered is the scale of the devastation in relation to NZ's GDP. The damage is estimated at 20% of the country's GDP. This compares with the Japanese Tsunami which, disastrous as it was is costing a couple of percent of GDP to reconstruct. The reality is that the centre of the city is gone. Roads all around are coned as the infrastructure is repaired. For me the abiding memory is the use of shipping containers to shore up dangerous structures and to protect roads from further rockfalls.  

Here is what is left of the Catholic Cathedral.

In the mean time the stock market stalls. It feels like what was known as the phony war. After the second world war had been declared and before real fighting began there was a sort of ominous silence. I feel the same is happening in the stock market as it dithers rocking gently up and down like a mental patient on an old fashioned medication. Not much else to say.

Those GVC shares have recovered their ex dividend pull back and then some. Long may it last.

No comments: