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 36
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-11) de la Torre, Augusto ; Ize, AlainThis paper revisits the historical roots of Latin America’s disappointing growth using a novel macro and trade-based growth decomposition and a simple model of industrialization in a commodities-exporting country with a large informal sector. The approach suggests the need to better qualify two opposite narratives: that the post-1982 (“neoliberal”) reforms have failed, and it is time to look back to the import substitution industrialization era for policy inspiration; and that the post-1982 reforms went in the right direction but must be completed to unleash significant productivity gains. Both can be misleading because they downplay the role of demand. The apparent “miracle” of import substitution industrialization does not provide a realistic point of comparison because it reflected an unsustainable, demand-induced boost in productivity. And the gains expected from Washington Consensus-style reforms alone can be overstated because they are derived from overly restrictive assumptions on demand. By allowing demand to play a more central role, the paper finds a close and revealing relationship between the growth patterns followed by Latin American countries, the quality of their macroeconomic policies, the nature of their trade, and the segmentation of their labor markets. Going forward, the policy agenda calls for an outwardly oriented growth strategy, supported by a more proactive role for the state that promotes not only efficiency in supply, but also the appeal to demand.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-04) de la Torre, Augusto ; Gozzi, Juan Carlos ; Schmukler, Sergio L.Over the past decades, many countries have implemented significant reforms to foster domestic capital market development. These reforms included stock market liberalization, privatization programs, and the establishment of regulatory and supervisory frameworks. Despite the intense reform efforts, the performance of capital markets in several countries has been disappointing. To study whether reforms have had the intended effects on capital markets, the authors analyze the impact of six capital market reforms on domestic stock market development and internationalization using event studies. They find that reforms tend to be followed by significant increases in domestic market capitalization, trading, and capital raising. Reforms are also followed by an increase in the share of activity in international equity markets, with potential negative spillover effects on domestic markets.
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, 2007-08) 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, 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, 2009-07) de la Torre, Augusto ; Schmukler, Sergio L. ; Servén, LuisThe 2008-2009 financial crisis has shaken the prevailing equilibrium of the global economy, with a collapse in capital flows and international trade. How will the post-crisis constellation of current account imbalances look? Will the world resume financing the United States (US), and continue sustaining large external imbalances there? Contrary to what many expected, some forces unleashed by the crisis have kept US assets attractive and the dollar strong, decreasing the need for an immediate reduction of global imbalances. Over the long run, however, real sector and financial sector forces are likely to impose a correction, perhaps involving a depreciation of the dollar and a major reallocation of international portfolios.
Publication(Washington, DC, 2012-10) de la Torre, Augusto ; Messina, Julian ; Pienknagura, SamuelAfter a robust recovery following the global crisis, Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) has entered into a phase of lower growth dynamics: economic activity in the region is expected to expand by about 3 percent in 2012, after having grown at 4 percent in 2011 and 6 percent in 2010. This deceleration is not specific to LAC but is part of a global slowdown. World growth is indeed declining sharply, from 4.5 percent in 2011 to about 2.3 percent in 2012. Notably, the slowdown in middle-income regions has taken place in a highly synchronized manner: growth rates in LAC, Eastern Europe and South East Asia have fallen by a very similar magnitude (about 3 percentage points) between 2010 and 2012. While this synchronization reflects exogenous (global) forces the spillover to emerging markets of weaker activity in the world's growth poles, particularly Europe and China it also reflects endogenous (internal) dynamics, particularly the fact that many Middle Income Countries (MIC) had already reached in 2010-2011 the peak of their own business cycles. This synchronicity notwithstanding, the 2012 growth forecasts for individual countries in LAC are significantly heterogeneous, reflecting complex interactions between external and country-specific factors. The first chapter, which is shorter, concerns the economic juncture and growth prospects. The second chapter, which is longer and more substantive, deals with selected labor issues from both the structural and cyclical viewpoints.
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(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, 2006-10) Beck, Thorsten ; de la Torre, AugustoAccess to financial services, or rather the lack thereof, is often indiscriminately decried as a problem in many developing countries. The authors argue that the "problem of access" should rather be analyzed by identifying different demand and supply constraints. They use the concept of an access possibilities frontier, drawn for a given set of state variables, to distinguish between cases where a financial system settles below the constrained optimum, cases where this constrained optimum is too low, and-in credit services-cases where the observed outcome is excessively high. They distinguish between payment and savings services and fixed intermediation costs, on the one hand, and lending services and different sources of credit risk, on the other hand. The authors include both supply and demand side frictions that can lead to lower access. The analysis helps identify bankable and banked population, the binding constraint to close the gap between the two, and policies to prudently expand the bankable population. This new conceptual framework can inform the debate on adequate policies to expand access to financial services and can serve as the basis for an informed measurement of access.