A growing number of economists and money managers are starting to worry about the opposite of inflation: deflation, a period of falling prices and declining incomes.
Sure, the government's consumer price index has gained 3.5% the past 12 months. Even stripping out food and energy, the CPI is up 2.1%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. And anyone who lives in the real world knows you can't live without food and energy.
But other prices have been moving relentlessly downward, from refrigerators to stocks to houses and salaries. Economist A. Gary Shilling argues that many of the factors for deflation are already in place, and that people overlook falling prices because they are so focused on the items they use the most.