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Inflation is Enemy #1 For Growing Number of Countries

Officials in countries from the United States to India say soaring fuel and food prices are causing inflation around the globe.

The chief executive officer of the U.S. chemical giant DuPont says in the Financial Times "inflation is here big time" and many companies must now raise prices.

Those price hikes alarm the International Monetary Fund, which says the worldwide inflation rate is 5.5 percent. IMF officials call that a threat to economic stability.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn urged Latin American finance ministers at a meeting in Cancun, Mexico Tuesday to "act decisively" to control inflation.

Top economic officials in Asia and Europe are also speaking out on the need to curb inflationary pressures.

The Asian Development Bank has raised its 2008 inflation forecast to more than five percent for the region. And ADB officials say inflation already appears to be chipping away at the region's growth.

Inflation has also spurred India's central bank to take action, raising benchmark interest rates after the official inflation rate surged above 11 percent this month.

Some economists say inflation in Asian countries is a particular concern because of the number of goods and commodities the region exports to the rest of the world.

Inflation is also a top concern at the European Central Bank where officials warn they are in a heightened state of alert.

Inflation in euro-zone countries has risen at an annual rate of close to four percent. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said Wednesday there is an "acute" danger of an inflationary spiral, where wages and prices continually push each other higher, fueling speculation the bank will raise key interest rates to rein in inflation pressures.

In Russia, where the annual inflation rate hit 15 percent in May, President Dmitri Medvedev has made fighting inflation one of his top priorities.

He tells the Reuters news agency the state will take "tough, precise" action that includes cutting what he called excessive state expenditures.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.