Will the Crude Oil Price Crash Spell Ruin for Stocks?

Talk of deflation was overheard on the Street as a few analysts quoted by the news wires mentioned the D-word. One reason for the recent equity market weakness is the uncertainty among investors as to whether lower oil prices are ultimately beneficial or detrimental for the economy. In one camp are those who maintain that lower oil prices will boost consumption; on the other side are those who claim that plummeting energy prices can only lead to outright deflation. Because neither side has a decisive majority right now, equities are caught in the imbalance of opinion which explains much of the recent volatility.