Gulf 'Spillionaires' Target Real Estate Market

spillionaires clean up financially after a disaster
spillionaires clean up financially after a disaster

"Spillionaire" is a term coined during the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 to describe those who make bank after an oil-related environmental disaster. Corporations, small businesses and individuals can profit when they seize opportunity from crisis. That's capitalism.

So it's no surprise that spillionaires are at the ready to profit from oil-drenched real estate on the Gulf of Mexico coast. Here are some ways some might be getting their piece of the action -- and why it's often beneficial for the rest of us.

While spillionaires get a lot of negative play in the media, they're actually a powerful component of a much larger, and largely invisible economic sector -- frequently working for good. This sector is described as the "restoration economy" by author and consultant Storm Cunningham.

"Spillionaires and anyone else who profit from disasters are like any other category of businesses or professionals: There are good ones and bad ones," says Cunningham. "Good ones provide good restoration value for the money, and bad ones take advantage of political connections to get no-bid (or rigged) contracts that allow them to do as little as possible for as much as possible."