Natural disasters are a source of economic risks in many countries, especially in smaller and lower-income states, and ex-ante preparedness is needed to manage the risks. The paper discusses sovereign experience with disaster insurance as a key instrument to mitigate the risks; proposes ways to judge the adequacy of insurance; and considers ways to enhance its use by vulnerable countries. The paper especially aims to inform policy decisions on disaster insurance. Through simulations of natural disasters and various insurance options, we find that sovereign decisions on optimal risk transfer involve balancing trade-offs between growth and debt, based on government risk preferences and country risk exposure. The choice of optimal insurance for smaller countries turns out to be more constrained by cost considerations due to their higher exposure, likely resulting in underinsurance; donor grants could help them achieve a more optimal protection. We also find that optimal insurance packages are those that are least costly relative to expected payouts (i.e. have the lowest insurance multiple), which are also the packages that insure less severe (more frequent) disasters.
Mr. Marcos d Chamon, Mr. David J Hofman, Mr. Nicolas E Magud, and Alejandro M. Werner
Foreign exchange intervention is widely used as a policy tool, particularly in emerging markets, but many facets of this tool remain limited, especially in the context of flexible exchange rate regimes. The Latin American experience can be informative because some of its largest countries adopted floating exchange rate regimes and inflation targeting while continuing to intervene in foreign exchange markets. This edited volume reviews detailed accounts from several Latin American countries’ central banks, and it provides insight into how and with what aim many interventions were decided and implemented. This book documents the effectiveness of intervention and pays special attention to the role of foreign exchange intervention policy within inflation-targeting monetary frameworks. The main lesson from Latin America’s foreign exchange interventions, in the context of inflation targeting, is that the region has had a considerable degree of success. Transparency and a clear communication policy have been key. For economies that are not highly dollarized, rules-based intervention helped contain financial instability and build international reserves while preserving inflation targets. The Latin American experience can help other countries in the design and implementation of their policies.
Over the past two decades, Mexico has hedged oil price risk through the purchase of put options. We examine the resulting welfare gains using a standard sovereign default model calibrated to Mexican data. We show that hedging increases welfare by reducing income volatility and reducing risk spreads on sovereign debt. We find welfare gains equivalent to a permanent increase in consumption of 0.44 percent with 90 percent of these gains stemming from lower risk spreads.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes transmission of monetary policy rates to lending and deposit rates in Mexico. The results show that transmission of the policy rate to market rates is statistically significant in all cases, except for mortgage rates. For sight deposits, pass-through is low, with a 1 percentage point increase in the policy rate leading to a 0.2 percentage point rise in the deposit rate. For term deposits the pass-through is stronger, but remains below unity at 0.7. The pass-through to both lending and deposit rates is very rapid. The dynamic specifications show that pass-through is significant in either the current or the following month, and the long-term impact is achieved during the second month.
A strand of research documents Chile’s copper dependence hence significant exposure to terms of trade shocks. Copper prices’ sharp decline and forecast uncertainty since the end of the commodity super-cycle has rekindled the debate on Chile’s adjustment capacity to external shocks. Following Malz (2014), this paper builds a time-varying measure of copper price uncertainty using options contracts. VAR analysis shows that the investment response to an uncertainty shock of average magnitude in the sample is strong and persistent: the cumulative fall in investment from trend at a one-year horizon ranges 2–5.8 percentage points; and it takes between 1½ and 2 years for investment to return to its trend level. Empirical ranges depend on alternative definitions for investment, uncertainty, and options’ maturing time.