International Herald Tribune
February 27, 2008
|High energy prices that were once easily absorbed by consumers are now more likely to act as a drag on household budgets, leaving people with less money to spend elsewhere.|
Gasoline prices, which for months lagged the big run-up in the price of oil, are suddenly rising quickly, with some experts fearing they could hit $4 a gallon by spring. Diesel is hitting new records daily and oil closed at an all-time high on Tuesday of $100.88 a barrel.
The increases could not come at a worse time for the economy. With growth slowing, high energy prices that were once easily absorbed by consumers are now more likely to act as a drag on household budgets, leaving people with less money to spend elsewhere. These costs could exacerbate the nation’s economic woes, piling a fresh energy shock on top of the turmoil in credit and housing.
“The effect of high oil prices today could be the difference between having a recession and not having a recession,” said Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economist.
The depth of the nation’s economic problems became clearer Tuesday with the release of figures showing that prices at the producer level rose 1 percent in January, driven in large measure by energy costs. Compared with a year ago, prices were up 7.4 percent, the worst producer price inflation in the United States since 1981.
This article was posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 7:55 am