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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Hamilton: The impact of oil prices on the U.S. economy

by Calculated Risk on 3/06/2012 07:12:00 PM

With questions about the impact of oil prices on the economy, I always pay close attention to Professor Hamilton at Econbrowser ...

From Jim Hamilton: Oil prices and the U.S. economy

Although the prices of oil and gasoline have risen significantly from their values in October, they are still not back to the levels we saw last spring or in the summer of 2008. There is a good deal of statistical evidence ... that an oil price increase that does no more than reverse an earlier decline has a much more limited effect on the economy than if the price of oil surges to a new all-time high.

One reason for this is that much of the impact on the economy of an increase in oil prices comes from abrupt changes in the patterns of consumer spending. ... ut if consumers have recently seen even higher prices than they're paying at the moment, their spending plans and firms' production plans are likely already to have incorporated that reality.

... based on what has happened to oil prices so far, I find myself in the unusual position of being less concerned about the impact of oil prices on the U.S. economy than many other analysts.