Oil barrels on the side of the road in Baghdad
Oil barrels on the side of the road in Baghdad - 
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Bill Radke: Oil prices are rising again, almost $71 dollars a barrel this morning. And that's driving up gas prices at the pump -- 16 cents a gallon in just the past two weeks. Now this seems to fly right in the face of Econ 101. We are in a recession,
demand is weak, prices should be falling, right? Reporter Jill Barshay explains.

Jill Barshay: You need to peer into the future to understand why oil prices have doubled over the past six months. David Kirsch is the director of market intelligence at PFC Energy. He says energy traders are betting that economic activity will pick up.

DAVID Kirsch: And as that picks up the demand for crude oil, for gasoline, for diesel will pick up too.

China's already stepping on the gas and driving up energy costs. That's pinching pocketbooks in America and sparking worries that high oil prices could stifle our recovery. But Kirsch says oil is the least of our worries.

Kirsch: I think overall consumers are looking at the loss of value in their house and their total wealth and the very insecure job market that's leading to much lower levels of consumer spending. And that's the primary cause of concern for the U.S. economy.

He points out that at 70 bucks a barrel, oil is just half of what it was at its peak last year.

In New York, I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.