This was the week of consumer angst. Inflation is pushing prices up, while the stock market started the week trending down.

“The economy is going through some dramatic adjustments as it opens up following the unprecedented circumstances associated with the pandemic last year,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.

Then there’s the panic over gas.

“Top off your cars,” a friend texted this week. “Costco and BJ lines are extremely long this morning and smaller stations are running out of gas.”

It’s the toilet paper sellout all over again. This time, the buying frenzy followed a cyberattack that shut down a pipeline that supplies the East Coast. Drivers rushed to fill their tanks and plastic containers, causing the very shortage they feared. Colonial Pipeline said it’s restarting operations after a ransomware attack, so supplies should be back to normal soon.

But other factors, chiefly inflation, are still causing consumer concern. Here are some answers to questions you may have about what’s going on with the economy.

What to know

  • How much do I need to worry about fuel shortages?
  • What is inflation?
  • Why is inflation going up so much and how will it affect my personal finances?
  • Who benefits from inflation?
  • Is inflation bad or good?
  • Why is the stock market suddenly selling off?