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Economist who witnessed inflation come out of nowhere in 1960s sees similarities. It suddenly seems that worrying about inflation has gone mainstream. What was so recently a quirky idea has shifted into a media mass movement as markets sag and news reports are filled with talk of rising prices. Wednesday’s latest consumer price index (CPI) data from the United States showing inflation rose to 4.2 per cent instead of the expected — though already high — 3.6 per cent only added to the apprehension. For Canadians thinking this is a U.S. phenomenon that we can safely ignore, don’t count on it. If inflation really does kick in, price rises in a deeply entangled North American economy will not be stopped by a thin border. If we’re not there yet, we are likely to catch up. The reason for that “if” in the previous paragraph is that one or two sharp rises in inflation do not necessarily signal an inflationary trend. On the other hand, nearly three generations of North Americans who have never witnessed true inflation in their adult lives have few reference points to decide for themselves if what we are seeing really is the beginning of inflation.

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