'Nightly News' Economist Warns Deeper Recession Over Spread of Swine Flu

Some financial indicators took somewhat of a shock over swine flu fears on the first day after the swine flu fears were realized.

"But on Wall Street today and overseas, travel-related stocks took a beating over flu fears," NBC correspondent Tom Costello said on the April 27 "NBC Nightly News," reporting that U.S. airline stocks were hit hard, down a little over 8 percent on the news.

Costello then ran video of Moody's Economy.com chief economist Mark Zandi, who lived up to his reputation for being very pessimistic in his economic forecasts and warned that things may get worse.

"If this lasts two months and spreads across the globe, then the global downturn will intensify," Zandi said. "Millions of more jobs will be lost, unemployment will rise, and this recession will last well into 2010."

We don't know whether Zandi offered more optimistic predictions for the scenario in which the swine flu pandemic turns out to be nothing more than a scare. If so, they were left on the cutting room floor.

However some think this flu scare is overhyped. Fox News Channel commentator Brit Hume pointed out deaths from flu illness of more common strains happen on a much larger scale on an annual basis.

"Consider this - tens of thousands of people, Trace, die every year from ordinary seasonal flu," Hume said on FNC's "The Live Desk with Trace Gallagher" April 27. "Here we have a case of a few dozen - only a couple of which require hospitalization and no deaths. What this is, is much ado about - I'm afraid to say this - not very much."

He explained this story has fed on itself, making it bigger than it should be - all due to a slow news cycle.

"I realize it's been a slow weekend in terms of news," Hume said. "The president went out and played golf on Sunday. The White House reporters don't have much to work with today, so they're trying to get a piece of this swine flu story, which you know, all the cable news channels are agog about, bug-eyed about. But so far, it doesn't amount to much in the United States of America."