Emerging markets inflation could hit double digits: Mobius

By Cecilia Valente

MONACO (Reuters) - Inflation in emerging markets could reach double digits, while economic growth this year will average 6 percent, according to Franklin Templeton's veteran emerging markets investor Mark Mobius.

Economic growth and rising commodity and food prices are fuelling inflation in emerging economies, but Mobius said these countries have previously withstood inflation running into the thousands of percent, such as in Brazil.

"I would be surprised that it goes into high teens, but it could go into the teens. I think most countries are going to try and keep it down," Mobius, who is executive chairman of Franklin Templeton's Emerging Markets Group, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Fund Forum conference in Monaco.

"What you have to focus on is (the) real interest rates environment, because if the inflation rate is above what people get in the banks, they will obviously have the tendency to move into equities," he said.

Mobius, who oversees about $54 billion in assets at U.S. asset manager Franklin Resources <BEN.N>, said growth in Asia will be a little faster than in other emerging markets.

"GDP growth will be 5-6 percent (on) average for emerging markets in general, in Asia I think it will be one (percentage) point more than that," he said.

Private investments in emerging markets will hit around $1 trillion in 2011 -- an estimate revised upward since January -- according to the Institute of International Finance.

Some analysts say inflows to these fast-growing economies, combined with existing inflationary pressure could lead to asset bubbles, posing what some experts called "monstrous" risks.

(Reporting by Cecilia Valente, Editing by Laurence Fletcher and Susan Fenton)