Deutsche Bank backs food derivatives, in face of critics

BERLIN Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:18am EST

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BERLIN Jan 19 (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank said on Saturday it would keep dealing in financial derivatives that prominent non-profit groups Oxfam and Foodwatch blame for pushing up international food prices and promoting famine in poor countries.

Deutsche Bank Co-Chief Executive Juergen Fitschen told a food conference that Germany's biggest lender had found little empirical evidence that financial instruments lead to increases or greater volatility in food prices.

"At the same time, agricultural futures markets bring numerous advantages to farmers and the food industry," he said.

"Deutsche Bank has therefore decided in the interest of its clients that it will continue to offer financial instruments linked to agricultural products," Fitschen told the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture.

The decision to carry on with the products chimes with the view of Europe's biggest insurer, Allianz, which earlier this year said derivatives were being unfairly blamed for price rises. It said price increases were due more to real economic factors like rising food demand in emerging markets and subsidies paid for the production of bio-fuels.

Global charity Oxfam has also identified real economy factors but says there are serious questions about the impact of big institutional investors that have been involved in food price speculation.

The founder of consumer advocacy group Foodwatch on Saturday said Deutsche Bank's decision to maintain its derivatives activity was highly irresponsible.

"There are sufficient scientific findings and practical evidence that the financial products Deutsche Bank is selling lead to speculative price bubbles on the futures market for agricultural raw materials and therefore can cause famines," Thilo Bode told Reuters.

Deutsche Bank had yet to prove that its products were harmless, he said. (Writing by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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