However, as noted by Adam Fergusson in his book "When Money Dies," quantitative easing could be considered a "modern euphemism for surreptitious deficit financing in an electronic age" which "can no less become an assault on monetary discipline" that increases inflationary momentum.
In another important line of post-crisis developments, a number of other countries have also succumbed to the perceived economic advantages of policies that could also contribute to inflationary build-up. Some, like China, are conducting a pegged exchange-rate policy that affects their money supply.
Meanwhile, India and Turkey - although pursuing a floating exchange rate policy - are susceptible to the effects of global quantitative easing. Indeed, several high-growth emerging economies, in particular Brazil, are responding to the massive influx of short-term cash into their economies by putting in place restrictions on foreign investment and other capital controls.
Without trying to divine considerations that were relevant centuries ago, Constantine would have probably questioned such approaches.
The bottom line is that, irrespective of various policies, in the West to the BRICs and elsewhere, inflation concerns are surfacing worldwide. Although U.S. inflation seems to remain within the forecast range, with persistent unemployment keeping labor wage demands at low levels, rising commodity prices and other inflationary pressures are applying opposing pressure.
Inflation in Britain rose to 4% in January 2011, double the government's target. European Central Bank inflation forecasts, although more optimistic than those in Britain, were still raised to 2.3% from 1.8% on the back of oil price hikes. But in certain countries, inflation has leaped over the EU average, such as the 3.2% registered by Belgium in January 2011.
In the world's rapidly developing economies, the situation is different - but the bottom line is similar. China's whirlwind return to growth has been accompanied by rising consumption and wage pressure. When combined with the ongoing weakness of the Chinese currency, it is hardly surprising that, according to government figures, price levels climbed 4.9% year-on-year in January 2011.
Meanwhile, Russia's consumer price index reached 8.8% in 2010, exceeding the 5.5% the government had deemed feasible at the end of the summer, and has now gone above 10%. And Brazil is facing a rate of growth that is the envy of a number of economies, but with an inflation rate that has been projected to reach 5.8%, well above the central bank's inflation target of 4.5% for the year.
While the "Great Recession" is far from over, and another downturn is not inconceivable, commodity prices are soaring, helped by drought (China), floods (Australia), civil unrest (throughout the Middle East) and a number of other factors.
In the year from February 2010 to February 2011, all commodity prices were up 50% in U.S. dollar terms. Companies from snack food producers to steel mills are suffering from exponentially increasing raw-material costs. Such a build-up threatens to take on a life of its own and acquire a dynamic beyond the scope of existing contingency plans.
Governments everywhere are responding by devaluing currencies, applying price restrictions, raising interest rates or imposing currency controls - in a way, true to the legacy of Diocletian. In some cases, they are attempting to obfuscate price increases - by changing definitions, altering the composition of indices or applying creative statistics.
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