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Here and around the world, the prices of everything from cotton to coffee have risen. The Department of Agriculture forecast for food costs in 2011 calls for an increase of 3 percent to 4 percent. And, the price of fuel is up -- a lot.
Yet, the government's measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, barely registers an increase in the prices consumers are paying. Economists don't expect an inflation increase of more than 1.5 percent this year, "even if food goes up 3 percent and energy goes up 10 percent," says Bill Hampel, chief economist for the Credit Union National Association.