My question is this: what form will that take, and how can I protect against it?
What do you guys think of those possibilities? *Am I worrying needlessly, or is this a reasonable expectation for the next 30 years? *Is there anything to do to enable me to retire during that time, besides hoard more money than the next guy?
Bernstein wrote a good article on this that is available from his website - http://www.efficientfrontier.com/ef/103/hell4.htm
It uses a simplistic example of 5 guys on an island but it gets the point across - increased inflation. The conclusion is:
If you want to retire early, what matters is not how much you save, but how much more than everyone else you save. In a world where everyone saves as if they're going to retire at fifty-five, or even at sixty-five, none can.
You could also read some of the work of the economic demographers such as Harry Dent. He and the others have been trying to predict broad market trends based on the population demographics. "The Pig and the Python" by Cork & Lightstone is a particularly easy to read one.