Meltdown 101: What's deflation, and why is it bad?

Deflation might sound like a good thing. Yet it can be even rougher on the economy than the more familiar phenomenon of inflation, because it's harder to get rid of.

In the past year, record-breaking prices for oil, grains and metals caused serious worries about runaway inflation. And as the economic slump took hold, economists even considered the possibility of stagflation _ a period of rising prices despite slow economic growth.

But now, as the economic downturn continues, concerns are shifting from rising prices to the opposite extreme: the possibility of a destabilizing bout of deflation.

Here are some questions and answers about deflation.
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