Experts: Economy Can Adapt to Oil Surge, for Now

Wednesday, 09 Mar 2011 03:29 PM

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Economists believe that surging oil prices will slow the U.S. recovery but won’t push the country back into recession. That's because of adjustments that businesses and consumers made to get through the last big price rise, in 2008, The New York Times reports. The question is what happens if oil prices, which have hit $100 a barrel, keep on climbing in response to higher global demand and political upheaval in the Middle East.

For now, however, a U.S. economy that burns less oil than it did six years ago looks better prepared to absorb the higher cost. The country’s vehicle fleet has become more gasoline-efficient overall. Industries such as trucking and airlines have already passed their higher oil costs on to consumers. And alternative fuel use, chiefly in the form of plentiful natural gas, is on the rise.

The shock of 2008, when gasoline peaked at $4.11 a gallon and oil surpassed $145 a barrel, appears to have made a lasting impression on American fuel habits. But some experts say a return to numbers like those could undo the U.S. economy’s recent progress.

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