Diane Swonk: Will unrest in the Middle East cause a double dip recession?

Jeremy Hobson Feb 24, 2011
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Diane Swonk: Will unrest in the Middle East cause a double dip recession?

Jeremy Hobson Feb 24, 2011
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JEREMY HOBSON: Now, for some analysis let’s bring in Diane Swonk. She’s chief economist with Mesirow Financial. She’s with us live now from Chicago. Good morning, Diane.

DIANE SWONK: Good morning.

HOBSON: So good news on weekly jobless claims, good news from GM, but it seems like the big economic story today is the rising price of oil.

SWONK: Well, certainly that is the big economic news today. And unfortunately, we don’t live in a vacuum. And if we lived in a vacuum we could just take the other data today and say, ‘Well, let’s run with it and have a good day.’ Unfortunately, the Middle East is not having such a great day and not only do we have oil prices surging, we also have uncertainly about what’s going to happen in other countries of Libya — Libya itself looking like it’s in quite a mess, maybe falling into anarchy at this stage of the game.

HOBSON: And when you put it all in context, when you take the good and the bad, are we looking at a situation where we could fall back into a double dip recession as a result of what’s going on in the Middle East?

SWONK: Well it’s always a risk. The good new is that Saudi Arabia can make up for the lost oil in Libya, they can up production and they’ve already promised a production. And although some people are questioning that, I think that they will step up to the plate and actually make up for that short fall in oil. That won’t totally reverse all the increases in oil prices that we see, but make them somewhat more manageable as we go forward. It’s hard to escape though what political uncertainty means in the Middle East, along with the oil prices and this could pit a bit of a damper on a recovery that was really regaining some momentum.

HOBSON: That old word “uncertainty” that we don’t like very much. Diane Swonk, chief economist with Mesirow Financial, thanks so much as always.

SWONK: Thank you very much.

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