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 12
Coping with Risk through Mismatches : Domestic and International Financial Contracts for Emerging Economies(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-02) de la Torre, Augusto ; Schmukler, Sergio L.The authors argue that short termism, dollarization, and the use of foreign jurisdictions are endogenous ways of coping with systemic risks prevalent in emerging markets. They represent a symptom at least as much as a problem. These coping mechanisms are jointly determined and the choice of one of them involves risk tradeoffs. Various conclusions can be derived from the analysis. First, because of the dominance of dollar contracts over short-duration contracts, dedollarization might be much more difficult to achieve than often believed. Second, one-dimensional policies aimed at reducing currency and duration mismatches might just displace risk and not diminish it. Third, as systemic risks rise, the market equilibrium settles in favor of investor protection against price risk (through dollar and short-duration contracts) at the expense of exposure to credit risk. Finally, the option value to litigate in the event of default might explain this equilibrium outcome.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-04) de la Torre, Augusto ; Didier, Tatiana ; Pinat, MagaliThis paper discusses the theoretical arguments in favor of and against economic globalization and, with a view to ascertaining whether Latin America may be able to capture the globalization upside, examines the trends and salient features of Latin America's globalization as compared with that of Southeast Asia. The paper focuses on trade and financial integration as well as the aggregate demand structures (domestic demand-driven versus external demand-driven) that underpin the globalization process. It finds that Latin America is mitigating some bad side effects of financial globalization by moving toward a safer form of international financial integration and improving its macro-financial policy frameworks. Nonetheless, Latin America's progress in raising the quality of its international trade integration has been scant. The region's commodity-heavy trade structures and relatively poor quality of trade connectivity can hinder growth potential to the extent that they are less conducive to technology and learning spillovers. Moreover, Latin America's domestic demand-driven growth pattern (a reflection of relatively low domestic savings) may become an additional drag to growth by accentuating the risk of a low savings-low external competitiveness trap.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-03) De la Torre, Augusto ; Levy Yeyati, Eduardo ; Schmukler, Sergio L.The rise and fall of Argentina's currency board shows the extent to which the advantages of hard pegs have been overstated. The currency board did provide nominal stability and boosted financial intermediation, at the cost of endogenous financial dollarization, but did not foster monetary or fiscal discipline. The failure to adequately address the currency-growth-debt trap into which Argentina fell at the end of the 1990s precipitated a run on the currency and the banks, followed by the abandonment of the currency board and a sovereign debt default. The crisis can be best interpreted as a bad outcome of a high-stakes strategy to overcome a weak currency problem. To increase the credibility of the hard peg, the government raised its exit costs, which deepened the crisis once exit could no longer be avoided. But some alternative exit strategies would have been less destructive than the one adopted.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-07) de la Torre, Augusto ; Gozzi, Juan Carlos ; Schmukler, Sergio L.This paper argues that the dominant policy paradigm on financial development is increasingly insufficient to address big emerging issues that are particularly relevant for financial systems in Latin America. This paradigm was shaped over the past decades by a fundamental shift in thinking toward market-based financial development and a complex process of financial crises interpretation. The result has been a richly textured policy paradigm focused on promoting financial stability and the convergence to international standards. It argues, however, that there is a growing dissonance between the current paradigm and the emerging issues, which is illustrated by discussing challenges in three areas: stock markets, small and medium enterprise loans, and defined-contribution pension funds. The paper concludes that the dominant policy paradigm is ill-suited to provide significant guidance in relation to the big emerging issues. It emphasizes the need to take a fresh look at the evidence, improve the diagnoses, revisit expectations, and revise the paradigm.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-08) de la Torre, Augusto ; Ize, AlainLatin America’s historically low saving rates and sub-par growth performance raise the question of whether the region should save more to grow faster. Economists generally resist acknowledging a policy-exploitable causal connection going from saving to growth because domestic saving is perceived to be fully endogenous, optimally determined, or fully substitutable by foreign saving. However, to the extent that these three assumptions do not hold, three channels can be established through which higher domestic saving—by curbing persistent current account deficits—can promote medium-term growth. The channels are first, a real interest rate channel, whereby higher saving reduces the cost of capital and enhances macro sustainability; second, a real exchange rate channel, through which higher saving leads to a more competitive real exchange rate; and third, an endogenous saving channel, whereby saving follows growth and, hence, subsequently compounds the effect of the first two channels. Econometric evidence supports all three channels and suggests that the lower-saving countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, especially those with recurrently weak balance of payments and persistent domestic demand pressures on the non-tradable sector, would benefit the most from boosting their saving rates.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) de la Torre, Augusto ; Martínez Pería, María Soledad ; Politi, María Mercedes ; Schmukler, Sergio L. ; Vanasco, VictoriaThis 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.
Publication( 2011-12-01) Anginer, Deniz ; de la Torre, Augusto ; Ize, AlainThe global financial crisis brought public guarantees to the forefront of the policy debate. Based on a review of the theoretical foundations of public guarantees, this paper concludes that the commonly used justifications for public guarantees based solely on agency frictions (such as adverse selection or lack of collateral) and/or un-internalized externalities are flawed. When risk is idiosyncratic, it is highly unlikely that a case for guarantees can be made without risk aversion. When risk aversion is explicitly added to the picture, public guarantees may be justified by the state's natural advantage in dealing with collective action failures (providing public goods). The state can spread risk more finely across space and time because it can coordinate and pool atomistic agents that would otherwise not organize themselves to solve monitoring or commitment problems. Public guarantees may be transitory, until financial systems mature, or permanent, when risk is fat-tailed. In the case of aggregate (non-diversifiable) risk, permanent public guarantees may also be justified, but in this case the state adds value not by spreading risk but by coordinating agents. In addition to greater transparency in justifying public guarantees, the analysis calls for exploiting the natural complementarities between the state and the markets in bearing risk.
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( 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.