Let's look at economic slowdown in terms of an analogy between recovery from hypothermia after you have fallen into ice water and recovery from a cold winter after your house has burned down. Hypothermia can be a crueller experience than anything you suffer during the cold winter but, if you have been fished out in time, the recovery is also quick. Your rescuers dry you, wrap you in a blanket and let you shiver your way back to normal body temperature. This is akin to the economic consequences of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11. They caused great shock but the real damage to the US economy in proportion to that economy's size is actually small. Granted that some industries like air travel will suffer longer. You yourself will not go cold-water swimming again after one brush with hypothermia. In the US it means that people will put off non-essential travel and demand better security, not necessarily a bad thing even if it means a hard time for airlines. But if the terrorist attack were all from which the US economy suffers the remedy is easily applied. Cut interest rates a few notches more to get things moving again and history will not record a general economic aftermath of that horror. What the US is really enduring at the moment, however, is more akin to the cold winter after your house has burned down. The instant remedy does not apply here. If it happens to you and if others will not give you their homes (which they will not if you put this analogy at the national level) then you will just have to sit the winter out with what blankets and heating you can find until you rebuild the house. The US burned out a few rooms of its house with the technology fever that ended last year. It represented a serious and widespread misallocation of capital and in economic terms did much deeper damage than did the destruction of the World Trade Centre. This sort of misdirected effort is the usual cause of recession. In the boom of a boom and bust cycle you get wastage and in the bust phase you pay for it. It is what we did in Asia in 1998 after a boom that saw the region throw money away on needless construction, unprofitable industries and consumer frivolities. But unless the present incumbent of the White House acts like Kaiser Wilhelm by starting a world war from one terrorist attack, those events of September 11 will not damage the US or world economies on anything like the scale that the Internet folly and some allied causes have done. It may seem callous to say this, but ask any economist. It is true. What makes the terrorist attack seem to have a much greater economic impact, however, is that it accelerated the downturn which resulted from the technology bust. Economies act like that. They get sticky in their movements and when something happens to shake things loose they go much faster to where they were headed in any case. In this case the real bottom is unlikely to be all that far down. The misallocation of capital in the US in recent years was proportionately much less than it was for Asia at the peak of the 1997 boom. Barring the worst of warlike follies, the US economy will stagger back to its feet after the usual painful adjustments have been made. What it needs is time. All of which goes to say that you should not in your own mind draw continuing downwards lines on those analysts' charts now showing a steep decline in our own economic growth rate in Hong Kong. Avoid putting those images of the destroyed World Trade Centre together with them when you ponder our future. We may be in some trouble but that horror in the US forms a smaller part of the picture than it seems to do so soon after the event.