For anyone wondering about the economic impact of Hurricane-turned-Superstorm Sandy, it is currently estimated to end up costing more than US$20 billion, only about half of which will be insured. This figure may well climb higher, likely making Sandy the fourth most costly weather event in the United States in the past 50 years. Most of these events have occurred in the past 20 years, and seven out of 10 have occurred in just the past eight years. Hurricane Katrina (2005) remains the all-time costliest, at well over US$100 billion, but Sandy will be the number-one costliest hurricane to strike the highly populated Northeastern United States, and it comes just one year after the US$16 billion Hurricane Irene.
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Two giant brands with very different images -- Walmart and American Express -- are partnering to sell general-purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards. The unlikely pairing and its product, called Bluebird, speaks volumes about the red-hot prepaid market: It's on fire! Competition in 2012 is at an all-time peak as more players enter the market and existing players expand sales into additional channels. Consumers will benefit greatly as product pricing declines and more product choices appear on the market. Prepaid providers will have to become more efficient and nimble in order to protect margins on the business -- or risk getting squeezed out.