Is inflation looming as the next obstacle?

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Unemployment figures for December will be released Friday and there's an expectation the rate will fall back under 10 percent.

After increasing to 10.2 percent in October, unemployment fell to 10 percent in November. Another month like that could indicate the economy has stopped shrinking and is even beginning to expand, according to an article on Forbes.com.

But the question looms: Is inflation next?

With the Treasury and Federal Reserve essentially printing U.S. currency and handing it to banks and overstretched lenders, there's a chance that too many dollars chasing a fixed amount of goods will lead to higher prices.

Inflation is at least as much based on perception of the future as conditions today, said Kevin Kleisen, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.

"Right now inflation expectations are fairly low and stable, but if the market gets spooked - either from the Fed not withdrawing stimulus fast enough or the rising budget deficit - that could lead to higher inflation expectations," Kreisen told Forbes.com.

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