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 14
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-08) de la Torre, Augusto ; Ize, AlainThis paper explores post-Lehman macroprudential regulation by interacting two types of market failures (principal-agent and collective action) with two cognition modes (unconstrained and constrained) in the context of aggregate risk. Four paradigms with orthogonal policy justifications are identified. In the first time consistency paradigm, regulation offsets the moral hazard implications of efficient but time inconsistent post-crisis bailouts. In the second dynamic alignment paradigm, it protects unsophisticated market participants by maintaining principal-agent incentives continuously aligned in the face of aggregate shocks. In the third collective action paradigm, regulation arises in response to the socially inefficient yet rational financial instability resulting from uninternalized externalities. The fourth collective cognition paradigm is grounded on the need to temper the mood swings that arise from bounded rationality or severe cognitive frictions in a rapidly changing, complex and uncertain world. These four rationales give rise to important tensions and trade-offs in the design of macroprudential policy.
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, 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, 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, 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( 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.