Return of the oil grinch

For the first time in six months, the price of crude is pushing $60. Sit back and watch the economic "green shoots" wither.

Published May 12, 2009 2:07PM (EDT)

An example of how difficult the path to economic recovery will be:

The U.S. trade deficit rose for the first time in eight months in March, to $27.58 billion. Imports fell, but exports fell even faster. One of the contributing factors, reports the Wall Street Journal: rising oil prices in March.

But in other news today, oil prices are now pushing $60 dollars a barrel for the first time in six months. Whether this is because of OPEC production cuts, traders betting on rising demand inspired by nascent economic growth, or a jump in Chinese consumption (or all three) is hard to say for sure. But world trade is still falling sharply -- Chinese exports were down again in April, (dropping at a faster year-on-year rate than in March) and yet energy costs are already going back up. If there really are any economic "green shoots" out there, in either China or the U.S., their continued health is a very dicey proposition.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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China Globalization How The World Works U.s. Economy