NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE E urope was awash in protests on a scale seen neither before nor, arguably, since. The year was 1848. “A specter is haunting Europe,” Marx wrote. “The specter of communism.” Others saw it as the “springtime of the nations,” a surge of liberal nationalist rebellion. Many of his contemporaries, however, perceived something else at work. Contemporary economists now see it too. Beginning in 1845, a series of supply disruptions had sent retail food prices across Europe surging. Food inflation, for neither its first nor the last time, was at least a co-conspirator in a bout of political upheaval.