1. A confused jumble or medley of things.
» Counting the cost of calamities

Thailand is no stranger to floods. Europeans once called Bangkok the “Venice of Asia”. But rarely have they done so much economic damage. October’s deluge cost $40 billion, the most expensive disaster in the country’s history. J.P. Morgan estimates that it set back global industrial production by 2.5%.

Such multi-billion-dollar natural disasters are becoming common. Five of the ten costliest, in terms of money rather than lives, were in the past four years (see map). Munich Re, a reinsurer, reckons their economic costs were $378 billion last year, breaking the previous record of $262 billion in 2005 (in constant 2011 dollars). Besides the Japanese and Thai calamities, New Zealand suffered an earthquake, Australia and China floods, and America a cocktail of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and floods. Barack Obama issued a record 99 “major disaster declarations” in 2011.