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Oil-shocked into recession?

Economists agree that oil prices have already spiked enough to take a bite out of the nation's economic growth. But what they can't agree on is whether this downswing could spiral into a full-blown recession.

Oil futures on Tuesday moved above $54 a barrel for U.S. light crude, up from the fifth straight record close it hit Monday...

Still, other economists say they're not overly concerned about the economy falling into contraction or recession, even though past oil spikes have produced just such economic woes.

"There are times when the economy is quite vulnerable, so a gentle push (from oil) can tip the economy into actual recession," said Anirvan Banerji, director of research at the Economic Cycle Research Institute, which forecast the 2001 recession based partly on the oil price increase seen in 2000. But Banerji said the economy is showing greater strength today in other measures than it did in 2000.

"A rise in oil prices might take a bite out of growth. But is there a magic number of what's enough to trigger recession? No," he said...