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Economic siege upstages political standoff

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Civil War-era photo of cannons at the parapet of South Carolina's Fort Sumter. Flickr image courtesy of markets are on sharp edges despite the absence of significant economic data. This shutdown foolishness holds the media's center stage, but that's not what's on the minds of markets. One thing there towers over all: We're either entering a spate of global inflation, with central banks late to the party ... or we're not. The 10-year T-note is out of bounds, up at 3.6 percent and taking mortgages above 5 percent. Japan and Libya forgotten, oil is at $111 a barrel, gold at $1,468 an ounce, and silver at $40 an ounce. That gold price is more than double the cost of new production, and silver easily quadruple -- the sign that "momentum" traders are chasing each others' tails. If we are ramping to global inflation, those tails are a good catch. If this episode is a replay of the summer of 2008, the momentum boys are going to end up wi...