Alaska, like nation, felt economic fallout from Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

PHOTO/Lisa Seifert/For the Journal

No review of the top Alaska business stories of 2001 is possible without discussing a single day in American history: Sept. 11.

The terrorist attacks that day on New York City and Washington, D.C., have affected every corner of this country’s economy, and Alaska is no exception.

In a state that depends largely on oil revenues, prices plunged and the state’s fiscal gap grew to nearly $1 billion. In a state where tourism is a major industry, advance bookings are off 23 percent. And the stock markets’ decline have reduced the savings of individual Alaskans, the portfolios of major Alaska corporations and even the size of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.

Economists now tell us that the United States entered a recession sometime this spring, so lower demand for oil, reduced recreational travel and lower stock prices would have occurred regardless of the events of Sept. 11, but it’s also clear the attacks intensified those trends.

And those trends have spread around the world. In Japan, the economy shrank last year. That’s bound to have a negative effect on everything from air cargo shipments to commercial fish prices in Alaska.

Ironically, all of this occurred in a year in which Alaska itself was not in a recession. In fact, the state’s economy grew by 2 percent, and state economists believe it will grow another 1 percent in 2002.

But Alaska, and Alaskans, are part of the national and global economies. Sooner or later, what happens outside our borders will affect us all. If Sept. 11 taught us anything, it is that we are all in this together.

Natural gas pipeline

The year 2001 began with oil and gas prices high. Those prices fueled a long-standing Alaska dream: to build a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48 through Canada. The "big three" owners of natural gas on the North Slope, BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Phillips Alaska Inc. and ExxonMobil Production Co., had begun studying the economics of two proposed routes.

11/12/2016 - 11:21pm