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My Two Cents

Bad News on the Economy

Chris Farrell Jun 6, 2008

The jump in the unemployment rate from 5% to 5.5% is bad news. So is the sickening $12 spike in oil prices.

Michael Mandel at Business Weeks sees another downturn in the recession. James Hamilton, economist at the University of California, San Diego, says it’s time to reassess the “potential for recent oil price increases to contribute to an economic downturn.” He’s definitely pessimistic..

The sharp spikes in oil prices associated with the 1973-74 oil embargo, the 1978 Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, and the first Persian Gulf War in 1990 were each followed by an economic recession. However, when oil prices started to rise again five years ago, many of us suggested that things would be different this time, in part because the price was rising much more gradually and so should be less disruptive of consumer spending patterns. Others emphasized that, despite the price increases, oil was still cheaper than it had been historically if you took into account inflation. However, once you include the most recent data, neither of those claims would still be true.

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