Crude oil prices hit an all-time high of $143.68 a barrel in July 2008. This was in spite of a decrease in global demand and an increase in supply. Oil prices are determined by commodities traders, both speculators and corporate traders hedging their risks. Traders will bid up oil prices if they think there are threats to supply, such as unrest in the Middle East, or an uptick in demand, such as growth in China.
An asset bubble occurred when gold prices hit the all-time high of $1,895 an ounce on September 5, 2011. Although many investors might not call this inflation, it sure was. That's because prices rose without a corresponding shift in gold's supply or demand. Instead, investors drove up gold prices as a safe haven. They were concerned about the declining dollar, hyperinflation in U.S. goods and services, and uncertainty about global stability. What spooked investors? In August, the jobs report showed absolutely zero new jobs gains. During the summer, the eurozone debt crisis looked like it might not get resolved and there was stress about whether the U.S. would default on its debt. Gold prices go up in response to uncertainty, whether it's to hedge against inflation or its exact opposite, the resurgence of recession. Article updated May 6, 2013