Labor's Fall -- Not Oil's Rise -- Is Key to Inflation

Despite all the worry over the impact of rising oil prices, recall that the U.S. is now a largely services-based economy, and observe that the rising wages that have led to real overall cost rises in decades past are nowhere to be found today. Exhibit A is in Wisconsin.

Consumers, Not Stocks, Will Feel Inflation's Pain First

Amid a bounce back in manufacturing activity, surging commodity prices are leading to fears of inflationary forces. Those forces are real, but corporate profits -- and therefore, stock prices -- won't suffer too quickly. The pain for struggling Americans, though, could be rapid and severe.

Beware of Wall Street Analysts' Rosy Views

Analysts eagerly paint rosy pictures of the companies they cover, and their current crop of earnings estimates are no exception. Predictions are for a record 2011 for the S&P 500. But smart investors should brace themselves for market mayhem when that optimistic scenario falls short.