Oil prices just one of many symptoms driving U.S. into recession

Over the past several months financial "experts" and politicians on all sides have been bickering about whether the U.S. economy is in a recession. Unfortunately for most people, the declaration of yes or no is a meaningless semantic argument. The way a recession is officially "defined" - two consecutive quarters of a shrinking gross domestic product - means that it can only be named after it has already happened. By that time, a lot of damage is already done to regular people. Unfortunately, prognosticating on the economy is a notoriously difficult prospect since all manner of hard-to-predict (and some not so hard) events can occur.
There are natural disasters and manmade disasters like the whole mortgage debacle that is now unraveling. Last fall as the breadth and depth of stupidity of the financial markets that funded a completely insane real estate market was already readily apparent, economists were predicting that high oil prices would not trigger a recession. Of course that was based on a recession as defined by increasingly suspect official data. While oil prices at $100 per barrel in and of themselves might not cause a recession, the economies of developed countries are so dependent on that particular economy that the effect tends to be cascading. Combined with all the other factors such as skyrocketing foreclosures, plummeting real estate values and an increasingly costly and seemingly interminable war, $100+ oil is probably the tipping point.

[Source: CNN Money]

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