There may be fewer paper towels in the package than there used to be, but you're still paying the same price. The same is true for dog food and trash bags. "Hidden inflation" in supermarkets is just one sign of how consumers are affected by a troubled economy, even though they don't notice. Bear-Stearns brokerage house was bought up before it collapsed, as was the sub-prime lender Countrywide. Now the Congress and President Bush are protecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The next bubble to burst may be in the credit-card market. What's next for low-income retirees, recent college graduates and first-time home buyers? If you've got some money, is this the time to invest?