De la Torre, Augusto
Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean Region, The World Bank
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Macroeconomics, Financial development
Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean Region, The World Bank
Externally Hosted Work
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.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-08) de la Torre, Augusto ; Gozzi, Juan Carlos ; Schmukler, Sergio L.Interest in access to finance has increased significantly in recent years, as growing evidence suggests that lack of access to credit prevents lower-income households and small firms from financing high return investment projects, having an adverse effect on growth and poverty alleviation. This study describes some recent innovative experiences to broaden access to credit. These experiences are consistent with an emerging new view that recognizes a limited role for the public sector in financial markets, but contends that there might be room for well-designed, restricted interventions in collaboration with the private sector to foster financial development and broaden access. The authors illustrate this view with several recent experiences in Latin America and then discuss some open policy questions about the role of the public and private sectors in driving these financial innovations.
Publication(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.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-03) de la Torre, Augusto ; Gozzi, Juan Carlos ; Schmukler, Sergio L.Over the past decades, many countries have implemented significant reforms to foster capital market development. Latin American countries were at the forefront of this process. The authors analyze where Latin American capital markets stand after these reforms. They find that despite the intense reform effort, capital markets in Latin America remain underdeveloped relative to markets in other regions. Furthermore, stock markets are below what can be expected, given Latin America's economic and institutional fundamentals. The authors discuss alternative ways of interpreting this evidence. They argue that it is difficult to pinpoint which policies Latin American countries should pursue to overcome their poor capital market development. Moreover, they argue that expectations about the outcome of the reform process may need to be revisited to take into account intrinsic characteristics of emerging economies. The latter may limit the scope for developing deep domestic capital markets in a context of international financial integration.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-10) de la Torre, Augusto ; Ize, AlainThis note questions two emerging views on ways to tackle systemic risk. As evidenced by the explosive growth of investment banks, which were regulated more lightly because they were assumed to be systemically less important, regulatory unevenness can trigger acutely destabilizing regulatory arbitrage. Hence, unless systemic footprints can be accurately measured and updated, something we think is unlikely, regulating differentially those institutions that are deemed to be the most systemically relevant looks like a perilous return to the past. Similarly, internalizing systemic liquidity risk by taxing maturity mismatches looks like a remnant of idiosyncratic thinking. Matching short liabilities with short assets can protect an individual intermediary's liquidity but at the expense of exacerbating systemic vulnerability.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015) de la Torre, Augusto ; Rudolph, HeinzThere are three stakeholders in a public-private partnership (PPP), (a) the government in office, (b) private firms (financial and non-financial) and investors (individual and institutional), and (c) final beneficiaries (taxpayers or users, present and future). The raison detre of PPPs is threefold: (i) to crowd in private firms and investors into projects that they will otherwise not undertake; (ii) to transfer to the private sector a significant part of the risks and costs that the government would otherwise fully absorb; and (iii) to ensure that the projects efficiency/quality is at least equal to that obtained if the government alone carried all costs and risks. Important (yet often ignored) implications follow. First, outsourcing (e.g., construction and maintenance) to the private sector does not by itself constitute a PPP if all risks and costs are, in one way or another, still borne by the government. Second, a PPP does not reduce total risk; it simply distributes it differently, involving private sector firms and investors. Third, the total costs borne by the final beneficiaries would be lower under a PPP (compared to a project whose costs and risks rest completely in the governments balance sheet) only if the PPP achieves efficiency gains; otherwise, what beneficiaries save in taxes they will pay in user fees, although, under a PPP, more of the costs would be assigned to direct beneficiaries/users, than to taxpayers at large. Fourth, that a PPP can provide (cash) budget relief may be a welcome corollary for the government in office but it is not a core objective of a PPP.
Publication( 2010-05-01) Birdsall, Nancy ; de la Torre, Augusto ; Caicedo, Felipe ValenciaThe authors analyze the Washington Consensus, which at its original formulation reflected views not only from Washington, but also from Latin America. Tracing the life of the Consensus from a Latin American perspective in terms of evolving economic development paradigms, they document the extensive implementation of Consensus-style reforms in the region as well as the mismatch between reformers expectations and actual outcomes, in terms of growth, poverty reduction, and inequality. They present an assessment of what went wrong with the Washington Consensus-style reform agenda, using a taxonomy of views that put the blame, alternatively, on (i) shortfalls in the implementation of reforms combined with impatience regarding their expected effects; (ii) fundamental flaws in either the design, sequencing, or basic premises of the reform agenda; and (iii) incompleteness of the agenda that left out crucial reform needs, such as volatility, technological innovation, institutional change and inequality.
Publication( 2011-10-01) de la Torre, Augusto ; Feyen, Erik ; Ize, AlainThis paper analyzes the bright and dark sides of the financial development process through the lenses of the four fundamental frictions to which agents are exposed -- information asymmetry, enforcement, collective action, and collective cognition. Financial development is shaped by the efforts of market participants to grind down or circumvent these frictions, a process further spurred by financial innovation and scale and network effects. The analysis leads to broad predictions regarding the sequencing and convexity of the dynamic paths for a battery of financial development indicators. The method used also yields a robust way to benchmark the financial development paths followed by individual countries or regions. The paper explores the reasons for path deviations and gaps relative to the benchmark. Demand-related effects (past output growth), financial crashes, and supply-related effects (the quality of the enabling environment) all play an important role. Informational frictions are easier to overcome than contractual frictions, not least because of the transferability of financial innovation across borders.
Publication( 2009-02-01) de la Torre, Augusto ; Ize, AlainThe Subprime crisis largely resulted from failures to internalize systemic risk evenly across financial intermediaries and recognize the implications of Knightian uncertainty and mood swings. A successful reform of prudential regulation will need to integrate more harmoniously the three paradigms of moral hazard, externalities, and uncertainty. This is a tall order because each paradigm leads to different and often inconsistent regulatory implications. Moreover, efforts to address the central problem under one paradigm can make the problems under the others worse. To avoid regulatory arbitrage and ensure that externalities are uniformly internalized, all prudentially regulated intermediaries should be subjected to the same capital adequacy requirements, and unregulated intermediaries should be financed only by regulated intermediaries. Reflecting the importance of uncertainty, the new regulatory architecture will also need to rely less on markets and more on "holistic" supervision, and incorporate countercyclical norms that can be adjusted in light of changing circumstances.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2007) de la Torre, Augusto ; Schmukler, Sergio L.The book should stimulate a vigorous discussion on how to best revise the reform agenda for capital market development in emerging economies going forward. This effort should involve not only country authorities but also academics and advisers from multilateral agencies such as the World Bank. The complexities highlighted in the book invite intellectual modesty, eclecticism, and constant attention to country specificity. While it does not provide detailed policy prescriptions, the book does point to issues that cannot be ignored and puts forward provocative questions for the policy debate. The policy discussion in the book is particularly interesting with respect to the following aspects: internationalization of stock markets and local currency debt markets. This paper contains the following headings: whither capital market development; developments in capital markets; factors behind the development and internationalization of capital markets; and whither the reform agenda.
Publication(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.