McClatchy: Key economists fear inflation is threatening a comeback

The Star:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Amid rising joblessness, Willard Agee worries about something else going up – prices.

Early whiffs of inflation, from clamoring gold markets to climbing mortgage rates, have left the 70-year-old retiree searching for ways to protect the purchasing power of his life’s savings.

“Right now, I’m in the process of trying to figure out what to do,” said the Lee’s Summit, Mo., resident. “I’m seriously thinking about buying some corn futures.”

It would be such a ’70s thing. Inflation turned that distant decade into a foot race against the rapidly eroding value of a buck.

But some professional money managers are taking similar steps now with clients’ money. They share the belief of some key economists, including Kansas City Federal Reserve President Tom Hoenig, that inflation is threatening a comeback.

If they’re right, all of us would face the now-unfamiliar task of handling personal investments and stretching household budgets amid an accelerating climb in prices.

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