Sandy's Next Victim: Seven And A Half Things To Know

11/05/2012 08:03 am ET
  • Mark Gongloff Managing Editor, Business and Tech, The Huffington Post

You can help with disaster relief by donating to the Red Cross here or by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. For many more ways to help, here's our "How to Help" guide.

Thing One: Sandy's Other Victim: It has been a week since Megastorm Sandy took aim at the East Coast, but she still has one more thing to mangle: The election.

The election is just 24 hours away. After two years, nearly $6 billion and several lifetimes' worth of political ads and gaffes, this thing could finally, mercifully be over. Except! Sandy has raised the FUBAR Election threat level to "high," Reuters points out. Potentially hundreds of thousands of voters in areas affected by Sandy are being asked to vote in polling places outside their district, while also juggling the competing interests of food, water, shelter, clothing and safety. At last check, President Obama holds a slight lead in most national polls (or "a tie," as the Wall Street Journal describes its last pre-election poll, which gave Obama a 48-47 lead over his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney). And he holds wider leads in key swing states. That combination means he is the favorite to win the election, according not only to the beleaguered Nate Silver, but also to The Huffington Post's Pollster.com. Investors also see it that way: According to betting market Intrade, Obama's re-election chances are up to 68 percent, their highest since before Obama's disastrous first debate.

But if the storm keeps hundreds of thousands of blue-state voters in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut away, or causes voting disruptions or malfeasance, there is a small chance that Obama could win the electoral college while losing the popular vote, warns Reuters. There is an even higher chance that, whatever the outcome, lawyers will earn lots and lots of money fighting over the results in court; in fact, they've already begun, the New York Times notes. And you can bet a tight election will lead to another hilarious media gaffe, notes the NYT, one like "Dewey Defeats Truman" or that time they declared George W. Bush won the 2000 election, only to have to take it back, before we endured weeks of litigated horror before the Supreme Court could decide who really won it. That was awesome.

It was not so awesome for the stock market, which did not enjoy the lack of clarity and the always ticking time bomb of constitutional crisis. Investors already yearn for "clarity" about who is going to be in charge and what they're going to do about stuff like the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling, the WSJ notes. Another prolonged litigated election will not make them, or any of the rest of us, happy.

Thing Two: Sandy's Real Victims Ever More Desperate: Of course, if the only thing we had to worry about with Sandy was a naggingly long election, then there are thousands of homeless, hungry, tired, frightened, mourning people right now who would take that tradeoff in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, there are still far too many people who have to deal with the basics of Maslow's hierarchy of needs right now, one of the most pressing of which is housing, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal point out today. Local and federal officials are scrambling to find shelter for thousands of people displaced by the storm, as temperatures dip into the freezing, and as a Nor'Easter takes aim at the very coastline Sandy has already destroyed, because Nature is horrible and merciless. Hundreds of thousands are still without power, gasoline remains in short supply, and the region's massive transportation infrastructure is still hobbled.

Thing Three: HSBC, Not So Easy As 1-2-3: British banking giant HSBC added some color to its money-laundering troubles this morning, and investors found the picture too ugly to bear. HSBC said it faced fines of more than $1.5 billion and potential criminal charges as a result of not keeping a close enough eye on who exactly was running money through its accounts -- Iranians, drug lords, et cetera. Though it also reported a quarterly profit, its shares tumbled more than 2 percent. The good news is that HSBC is not alone -- lots of other British banks are in trouble for one thing or another. The bad news is that it's not alone -- why are so many British banks getting in trouble all the time?

Thing Four: Wall Street Barely Gets Raise At All: And of course the real victims of all of these banking shenanigans are the bankers themselves, who are barely getting paid enough to do the right thing. Wall Street pay is mostly going to be higher next year, the Wall Street Journal reports, but not by all that much. And bonuses will be lower. Yes, lower bonuses. The average managing director is going to have to scrape by with just $930,000 this year, according to the WSJ, a mere 3 percent raise from a year ago. What is this, fast food?

Thing Five: Rest Of World Nags U.S. To Fix Fiscal Cliff: The Group of 20 is expected today to release a statement, at the end of a two-day meeting of finance ministers and central-bank chiefs, encouraging the U.S. to deal with its fiscal-cliff issues, lest it cause global turmoil, Bloomberg writes. It is unclear who, exactly, might care about what the G-20 says -- neither European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi nor U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner attended the meeting -- but there you go.

Thing Six: We Just Can't Stop Worrying About Greece: Greece's parliament could vote as soon as this week on another round of belt-tightening measures required by that country's creditors, a vote that could suddenly raise again the questions about the very survival of the euro, Bloomberg writes. For now, it looks like Greece, in its fifth year of recession, is going to rubber-stamp another round of austerity. But this is probably just about all an angry populace can take.

Thing Seven: Facebook's Bankers Unfriended It Quickly: Facebook had few friends following its disastrous IPO. Among the least friendly to it were its own underwriters, whose mutual funds were among the first to dump the stock in the weeks after the IPO, the Wall Street Journal writes.

Thing Seven And One Half: Good Sports: A lot of people who were bitter about the idea of hosting a marathon in a storm-wrecked city last week snarked that maybe the runners should be carrying food to people, or vice-versa. Well, after the race was canceled, a lot of those runners did exactly that.

Now Arriving By Email: If you'd like this newsletter delivered daily to your email inbox, then please just feed your email address to the thin box over on the right side of this page, wedged narrowly between the ad and all the social-media buttons. OR, if you are logged into a HuffPost account, you could simply click on this link and tick the box labeled "7.5 Things" (and any other kind of news alert you'd like to get). Nothing bad will happen to you if you do, unless you consider getting this newsletter delivered daily to your email inbox a bad thing.

Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

10:00 a.m. ET: ISM Service-Sector Index for October

Corporate Earnings:

Southern Co.

Time Warner Cable

Heard On The Tweets:

-- Tweets and calendar items compiled by Alexis Kleinman

And you can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff

YOU MAY LIKE

CONVERSATIONS