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Could Swine Flu Outbreak Destroy Mexico's Economy?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," April 28, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Now, let me go back to the story that, you know, the one that everybody is forgetting about and once Specter, you know, broke some political news today.

Swine flu — it is spreading and not stopping. There are now more than 60 confirmed cases here in the U.S. Carnival Cruise Lines says it has cancelled three Mexico stops for its cruise ships due to the swine flu.

What impact — and this is what nobody is hitting — what impact will this have on the already-battered Mexican economy as well as ours right here in the U.S.?

Video: Watch Beck's interview

With me now is Columbia University professor, David Buckner — David.

DAVID BUCKNER, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Hi, Glenn.

BECK: Nobody is looking at — they're thinking of this as just, "Is it going to be a pandemic? Are we all going to die?"

This has a real chance of changing the economy like that — in Mexico and here.

BUCKNER: They're looking at it from a viral perspective, from what needs to be done in terms of a pandemic and how many people would get sick. It would have significant impact.

You recognize that Mexico is quite fragile — $13 billion in tourism dollars go into Mexico, I believe is the number. And when you start — Carnival starts pulling out, others start pulling out, with an already fragile economy — and this is an economy that's the third top exchanging or importing/exporting economy with the United States — that's going to have a domino effect.

BECK: Right.

BUCKNER: It's not just about sickness, albeit that's important. It's also about the domino that it creates, even in perception.

If people aren't getting sick but they believe that it's occurring, that it's going to be a pandemic, you are hearing people already trying to move away from Mexico both in terms of trade, both in terms of going there in tourism and other such things.

BECK: Let's flip it in the other direction.

BUCKNER: Right.

BECK: What does it do to our economy? Not just because — don't we own a lot of Mexican debt?

BUCKNER: We do.

BECK: OK.

BUCKNER: We hold a lot of debt. And if Mexico can't make the revenue, they can't service the debt, they can't just pay the interest on the debt — that's a problem. They get that from the revenue that comes both from tourism, from oil, from all of their major industries.

BECK: OK. So, let's look at it from the other side of the coin that
— have you noticed that people are dying there but they're not dying here?

BUCKNER: We do have — appear to have a less severe strain.

BECK: Or we have better health care here.

BUCKNER: We're getting it earlier.

BECK: If you are — if you are a mom and dad in Mexico and you know that people around you are dying, but they're not dying in the United States, David, wouldn't you get in the car and come to the United States and try to get the free health care here?

BUCKNER: I would move away from the city center. And whether it's the United States or another direction, it depends on where you are. If I'm north of Mexico City, I'd probably move toward the north and try to get further and further away.

Yes, I'd go to where it's safe. I'd go to the medical health care because I know in the U.S., it's free if I walk in.

BECK: So, what does that do to us, the extra burden on — look, I don't mean to make this about numbers.

BUCKNER: No.

BECK: But we are — and I have been describing this for several
years: a perfect storm. I said back in September, there is a perfect storm that has come onshore. I've been talking about it for years, and it just came onshore. This is part of it. It is — while it's not connected, it is all connected on how much can we weather as a nation, as an economy, as a planet — the way we have set it up.

BUCKNER: With this, you have two fronts. One, how much can we weather? We already have economic challenges. And so now, you throw in a health challenge.

By the way, you made an interesting point at the very beginning, that was quite compelling and that is that we have so many challenges now the first thing that people generally do is run to a higher — the government — a higher authority to care for me. It's a natural instinct. I'm not faulting it, but there is no residual government oversight when you have all of these storms coming together. We have economic; we have health — that's the first issue.

The second issue is — you do now have, with regard to Mexico, people coming over the border. We have health care that's free on this side of the border, free to them, OK? They walk into a hospital. They need it.

And what happens? We run the risk of passing that along. We run the risk of now them staying here, we run the risk of the domino.

BECK: OK, David. Thank you very much.

BUCKNER: Good to see you.

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