NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Alan Greenspan and his cohorts at the Federal Reserve must be keeping their fingers crossed in a big way when it comes to oil prices.
On Friday the Fed chairman told us once again that oil prices at this level -- over 50 bucks a barrel -- are not a big problem for the economy, in fact not much of a problem at all. He said they are shaving about 3/4 of a percentage point off the nation's economic growth rate - GDP -- but they won't have the same impact they did in the 70's.
Translation: high oil prices won't knock us into recession.
Now more and more people are worried about what happens to the economy when it comes time to fill home heating oil tanks. Will we have a shortage - like flu vaccine? Probably not, but high prices will pinch.
Maybe the Fed chairman doesn't want to roil the political waters right before a presidential election by sounding the alarm bells. But behind Greenspan's sanguine and reassuring words, I'll bet there's a policy maker hoping and praying he's right.
Kathleen Hays anchors CNN Money Morning and The FlipSide, airing Monday to Friday on CNNfn. As part of CNN's Business News team, she also contributes to Lou Dobbs Tonight.