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Emerging Markets 'Half of Global Growth': World Bank

Tuesday, 21 Jun 2011 | 3:44 PM ET
World Bank President Robert Zoellick addresses the media during a press conference following his meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on September 2, 2009 in Beijing, China.
JHSB | ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images
World Bank President Robert Zoellick addresses the media during a press conference following his meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on September 2, 2009 in Beijing, China.

Emerging markets currently represent "about half of global growth," World Bank President Robert B. Zoelick told CNBC Tuesday.

Emerging markets have "recovered quite nicely" at a time when the United States is facing slow growth, unemployment and a fiscal deficit and Europe is trying to manage the crisis in Greece while returning to better growth, he said.

"So at a time the developed countries have been struggling, those [emerging] markets have been assuming more prominence, whether it be commodities markets [or] some of the things we deal with on the food side," he added. These markets have also helped "with some of the exports from developed markets."

China is slowing a bit, "but I think that’s actually appropriate," Zoelick said. "They recovered very well and with the risk of overheating it’s important they come back down a little bit" to avoide a bubble in real estate and other sectors of its economy.

The World Bank, which offers loans, advice and other resourses to developing countries, said Monday it launched a pilot program with J.P. Morgan to provide as much as $4 billion in protection for volatility in food prices.

"In developing markets, people don’t have access to basic commodity derivatives," he told CNBC Tuesday. "These are pretty plain-vanilla products."

Wheat field
Getty Images
Wheat field

"They’ve encountered high upfront and margin costs," he explained. The bank and J.P Morgan are "providing credit support. We’ll try to help these players access these commodities markets. I think this will take off pretty quick.

"We’re talking to banks in Europe as well so we can try to make sure derivatives, which have gotten a bad name in some quarters, can be used to try to insure some of these players."

He said food prices are up 50 percent from a year ago, although they have stabilized over this quarter. This hurts the poor and areas, such as the Middle East, that are major commodities importers, particularly of wheat.

"The risk is stocks for most of the grains, particularly wheat and corn, are very, very low, at least by historic terms," Zoelick said. "That means if you get some weather shock or other event you could have an increase in price spikes again."

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