Inflation ... What Inflation?

GENERIC economy fire dollar bill money stock market
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
People in the markets have had their hair on fire the last couple of weeks because of inflation. Key inflation numbers have crept up to their highest levels in 10 years, and the stock market, especially, has taken a beating.

We're talking inflation indicators in the 3½ percent range that have set off the surge of selling and worry. It is one of the wonders of the economy and the manipulation of interest rates that have made us think that 3½ percent is a predictor of doom. Incredible that we have been that fortunate — and well looked-after.

Need I say I remember the 1970s? Do you recall Gerry Ford and his "WIN" buttons — "Whip Inflation Now?" Inflation ran at double digits for years. Mortgage rates were what — 18, 19, 20-something percent? My brain has blocked out the number.

It's amazing how things have changed. Now are we addicted to low interest rates too? And will rising rates put the brakes on a growing economy? Stay tuned.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.