It took a few months, but the economic woes touched off by soaring oil prices and the subprime-mortgage crisis in the United States are now engulfing Europe.

While each country has written its own recipe for what appears to be a looming slowdown, they all have one key ingredient in common: "Inflation, inflation, inflation," said economist Gilles Moec of the Bank of America in London.

Pinched by higher prices, consumers aren't spending — and polls find confidence levels are falling in most of Europe's big economies, according to an Associated Press story on Page M3.

Inflation could well be the bugbear that defines what might otherwise have been a normal, cyclical slowdown after two or three years of strong growth in Europe. Unusually, it is food and oil prices that have risen without driving up core inflation. But many worry it is just a matter of time before prices for other goods begin rising, as well.