Lower gas and food prices: What's the catch?

More interesting economic data from the government this week.

The Producer Price Index, which measures the cost of goods and services for domestic producers before those items reach consumers, fell by 0.1 percent in September.

The Labor Department says that drop was led by a decline in gasoline prices, which fell 2.6 percent for the month, along with lower prices for cooking oils, corn and some dairy products. Meat prices, while still high, also dipped last month.

Lower gas prices usually help producers, and therefore consumers, by making transportation of goods less expensive.

"Almost all of the food and other goods that are moved across the country go by 18-wheeler," Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com, recently told New Jersey radio station WKXW-FM, "and prices for diesel are falling almost as rapidly as the prices for gasoline."

Food prices have also been falling due to some record grain crops, especially for wheat andcorn.

But just how rosy is this economic picture? The historic rise in U.S. domestic oil and gas production is good for American consumers and consumer confidence, especially at the gas pump. But it is also driving down oil prices internationally, which is causing concern in the global energy markets and in turn causing new financial issues for some of the international economies still struggling to recover from the recession.

Martin Boileau, an associate professor in the economics department at the University of Colorado Boulder, notes that, thanks to the domestic energy output, U.S. consumers and businesses are much more shielded now from oil and gas price fluctuations -- especially when you look back on the turbulent 1970s and 80s.

He says there are still many complex variables that could come into play, and change the current economic outlook.

However, he tells CBS MoneyWatch, "Whenever consumers have more choices and can buy cheaply, it's good for consumers. Lowering of energy prices should help everybody."