Economies all over the world are presently in the grip of inflationary (even hyperinflationary) environments. This is a direct result of commodity prices that have spiraled beyond conventional notions of supply and demand. Although some will insist that there are fundamental reasons for the rise in Oil, Gold, and other commodity prices, my sense is that it is primarily driven by speculation. For reference, I have written some bits to this note elsewhere.
Arguably commodities are in a “bubble”, the concept of which is not a new term, but it is a controversial one:
An economic bubble (sometimes referred to as a speculative bubble, a market bubble, a price bubble, a financial bubble, or a speculative mania) is “trade in high volumes at prices that are considerably at variance from intrinsic values”. 
While some economists deny that bubbles occur, the cause of bubbles remains a challenge to those who are convinced that asset prices often deviate strongly from intrinsic values. While many explanations have been suggested, it has been recently shown that bubbles appear even without uncertainty, speculation, or bounded rationality. Most recently, it has been suggested that bubbles might ultimately be caused by processes of price coordination or emerging social norms.
This present bubble is the result of another one–which is the US Housing Bubble and the bubble in Subprime lending, which burst in 2007, but which surprisingly set off a chain reaction in other financial markets–confounding economists and analysts who reasoned that the crisis in housing and lending were specific problems, and could not possibly affect other markets, let alone affect economies outside of the US.
This apparently is not the case, and I think it is because of one overarching reason: the investors in subprime loans which are collateralized by US housing, are pretty much the same investors in everything else, including commodities which they use as hedges as mentioned above. These large hedge funds and banks, to stem losses from bad loans, turn to buying commodities, which drive them higher–and now leads to inflation.
I came across a roundtable discussion about this featuring some top economic minds and fund managers. Some interesting excerpts:
FORD: One regulatory mechanism is for participants in the system to suffer pain when things go wrong. Have the miscreants suffered enough to act as a deterrent to further misbehaviour?
KALETSKY: Well, the shareholders of Citibank and Bear Stearns have been punished, but they were not the ones who were taking the decisions. The people who made decisions were the directors.
SOROS: Why not shoot them?
KALETSKY: Well I was going to suggest something almost as radical. The idea that for the chairman of Citigroup to be fired with a payoff of a $100m constitutes some kind of punishment is ludicrous. And it is similarly ludicrous to argue that it is a punishment for a trader at Citigroup to be sacked having accumulated $10m, $20m or $30m in bonuses over the last few years.
Check out the discussion here. The causes and effects of this, seemingly endemic and cyclical phenomena in human activity is an interesting critique of human behaviour.