I have been enjoying following Gail Tverberg's Our Finite World blog - a primary focus for her is the idea that high oil prices are the initial cause of the financial and political and economic problems around the world. High oil prices keep the great recession going, cause the debt and deficit spending problems, reduce innovaetion, and that they could well continue to block any recovery.
She describes a stuttering economy, in which a bit of headway towards economic recovery is made, but the increased activity causes an increase in the price of oil, which then stalls the recovery.
I find some of her arguments a bit undersupported, but many are brilliant. This article is a pretty good summary of her main arguments about the high cost of oil and economic recession and recovery.
The graph really tells the story.
Here's a snippet: