De la Torre, Augusto

Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean Region, The World Bank
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Macroeconomics, Financial development
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Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean Region, The World Bank
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Augusto de la Torre, a national of Ecuador, is the Chief Economist for Latin American and the Caribbean. Since joining the World Bank in 1997, he has held the positions of Senior Advisor in the Financial Systems Department and Senior Financial Sector Advisor, both in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. From 1993 to 1997, Mr. de la Torre was the head of the Central Bank of Ecuador, and in November 1996 was chosen by Euromoney Magazine as the year’s "Best Latin Central Banker." From 1986 to 1992 he worked at the International Monetary Fund, where, among other positions, he was the IMF’s Resident Representative in Venezuela (1991-1992).  Mr. de la Torre has published extensively on a broad range of macroeconomic and financial development topics. He is a member of the Carnegie Network of Economic Reformers. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Economics at the University of Notre Dame and holds a Bachelors degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of Ecuador.
Citations 23 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
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    Bank Involvement with SMEs : Beyond Relationship Lending
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) de la Torre, Augusto ; Martínez Pería, María Soledad ; Schmukler, Sergio L.
    The "conventional wisdom" in academic and policy circles argues that, while large and foreign banks are generally not interested in serving SMEs, small and niche banks have an advantage in doing so because they can overcome SME opaqueness through relationship lending. This paper shows that there is a gap between this view and what banks actually do. Banks perceive SMEs as a core and strategic business and seem well positioned to expand their links with SMEs. The recent intensification of bank involvement with SMEs in various emerging markets documented in this paper is neither led by small or niche banks nor highly dependent on relationship lending. Rather, all types of banks are catering to SMEs and larger, multiple-service banks have in fact a comparative advantage in offering a wide range of products and services on a large scale, through the use of new technologies, business models, and risk management systems.
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    How Do Banks Serve SMEs? Business and Risk Management Models
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) de la Torre, Augusto ; Martínez Pería, María Soledad ; Politi, María Mercedes ; Schmukler, Sergio L. ; Vanasco, Victoria
    This study describes the business and risk management practices that banks use to serve small and medium enterprises (SMEs). To do so, we use recently collected evidence from Argentina and Chile for a significant number of banks in each country, gathered through on-site meetings, a tabulated questionnaire, and a detailed data request. We find that banks are setting up separate departments to serve the segment, targeting many SMEs from all economic sectors and geographic regions. Banks use relationship managers to seek out new clients. Risk management and loan approval is separate from sales, mostly centralized, but not largely automated. Knowing the client is still crucial to minimize risks. Overall, the patterns we uncover suggest that banks are in the middle of an on-going learning process, by which they are developing the structure to deal with SMEs in a sustainable basis over the coming years.
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    Drivers and Obstacles to Banking SMEs : The Role of Competition and the Institutional Framework
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2008-12) de la Torre, Augusto ; Martínez Pería, María Soledad ; Schmukler, Sergio L.
    This paper studies the factors banks perceive as drivers and obstacles to financing small and medium enterprises (SMEs), focusing on the role of competition and the institutional framework. Using a survey of banks in Argentina and Chile, the paper shows that, despite alleged differences in the countries' environments regarding rules, regulations, and ease of doing business, SMEs have become a strategic segment for most banks in both countries. In particular, banks have begun to target SMEs due to the significant competition in the corporate and retail sectors. They perceive the SMEs market as highly profitable, large, and with good prospects. Moreover, banks are developing coping mechanisms to overcome the particular institutional obstacles present in each country and to compete for SMEs. Banks' interest in SMEs is not based on government programs, yet policy action might help reduce the cost of providing financing, especially long-term lending.