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Disaster Risk: Using Capital Markets to Protect Against the Cost of Catastrophes

Michael Bennett's picture
Hurricane Sandy / NOAA
Hurricane Sandy / NOAA


In addition to their often devastating human toll, natural disasters can have an extremely adverse economic impact on countries. Disasters can be particularly calamitous for developing countries because of the low level of insurance penetration in those countries. Only about 1% of natural disaster-related losses between 1980 and 2004 in developing countries were insured, compared to approximately 30% in developed countries. This means the financial burden of natural disasters in developing countries falls primarily on governments, which are often forced to reallocate budget resources to finance disaster response and recovery. At the same time, their revenues are typically falling because of decreased economic activity following a disaster. The result is less money for government priorities like education or health, thereby magnifying the negative developmental impact of a disaster.

To address this problem, the World Bank Treasury has been helping our clients protect their public finances in the event of a natural disaster. The most recent innovation is our new Capital-at-Risk Notes program, which allows our clients to access the capital markets through the World Bank to hedge their natural disaster risk. Under the program, the World Bank issues a bond supported by the strength of our own balance sheet, and hedges it through a swap or similar contract with our client. The program allows us to transfer risks from our clients to the capital markets, where interest in catastrophe bonds is growing.

How to Take Control of your Personal Finances

Rekha Reddy's picture


​Many of our aspirations revolve around improving our personal finances—keeping better track of spending, saving towards a goal or perhaps getting out of debt.  How can we work towards these goals and follow through on these changes? 

Latin America and the Caribbean: Back to Normal?

José Juan Ruiz Gómez's picture


The ritual publication by the leading multilateral organizations, think tanks and investment banks on the macroeconomic outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean which, without being too dramatic, puts an end to the era of growth rates above the region’s potential, has inevitably attracted the interest of policymakers, investors and the public in general.

Quick Note: 'Technical Measures to Trade in Central America' Working Paper Now Available

Miles McKenna's picture
For those of our readers who were anxious to learn more about how "Non-Tariff Measures Raise Food Prices and Hinder Regional Integration in Central America", the working paper has now been officially released.

You can find it here.

Building pro-growth coalition for reforms: The Caribbean Growth Forum

Andrea Gallina's picture

Nighttime in St George's, Grenada

What does it take to make reforms work in small island countries?

At the end of June 2013, twelve Caribbean countries presented a roadmap for growth in three areas -logistics and connectivity, investment climate, skills and productivity- to a broad audience of private sector representatives, international development institutions, regional organization, civil society and media. That event culminated a 7-month long phase during which policy-making was not the result of close-doors meetings, but a process of intense negotiation, consultations, and consensus building among all actors of each Caribbean country’s societies. All of which was documented in real time and in a transparent fashion by each government. Yes, business was not “business as usual”.
 
Reforms priorities were agreed and a calendar for implementation brushed on a power point slide in the wonderful framework of five stars Bahamian hotel…After the workshop lights, projects and microphones shut down, many of us went home with a familiar sound in our ears: and now what? Was it another “talkshop”?

Helping Green Business in the Caribbean

Herbert Samuel's picture


Increased hurricane activity and rising sea levels are well-known effects of climate change, and they prompt solemn head-shaking when we read about them in reports. But in the Caribbean they are part of a terrifying reality that is happening now: This reality was demonstrated again by recent flooding and landslides in the Eastern Caribbean that left 20 dead and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Channeling Caribbean diaspora dollars back home

Qahir Dhanani's picture


“We have the money, but it’s just not that easy to find the deals back home.” These words, from a Barbadian entrepreneur in Silicon Valley tell the story of a successful tech entrepreneur whose family left the Caribbean almost a generation ago. They moved to the USA and over the years he was able to build a successful business based in Northern California.

Non-Tariff Measures Raise Food Prices and Hinder Regional Integration in Central America

Jose Daniel Reyes's picture

A cow browses in Nicaragua. Source - www.flickr.com/photos/ajohndoeproject/3657141084/sizes/m/in/photostream/It is July 2012 and cattle farmers in Nicaragua are worried because Guatemala has enacted a series of laws that restrict beef trade. These so-called “non-tariff measures,” or NTMs, require that beef crossing the Guatemalan border meet stricter safety and labeling standards. The Guatemalan government argues that these measures protect the country’s consumers from health hazards. But the Nicaraguan farmers say they hurt business and unfairly shelter Guatemalan producers from competition. 

This is just one example of the debates that arise in the food industry in Central America and elsewhere. While it is laudable and good policy for a government to use legitimate, non-trade related legislation to protect its citizens from certain risks, governments can also use these measures to protect domestic industry. Regardless of their intention, in an increasingly globalized, competitive world, non-tariff measures increase the cost of doing business, impact prices, affect the competitiveness of the private sector, and impact the overall welfare of the economy.

Buenos Aires: How the Maldonado stream went back to its bed

Maria Madrid's picture
The case of the Maldonado stream: The voice of a citizen

Imagine a busy metropolitan avenue crossing the length of Buenos Aires, Argentina, transited daily by buses and trains and lined with a large hospital, medical buildings, schools, shops and businesses.

Now imagine for 27 years this avenue flooding severely 37 times as if it were a river. During a flood, envision people being evacuated in motorboats, cars practically floating downstream, and cars and pedestrians on the bridge above it having to remain stranded there until the waters on the avenue below receded. It sounds implausible doesn’t it? Not for Buenos Aires residents it didn’t. The Juan B. Justo Avenue was such a thoroughfare.

Targeting motorcycle users to improve traffic safety in Latin America

Anna Okola's picture


Motorcycle riders and passengers have long been vulnerable users of motorized transport. In the Americas, with the increasing ownership of motorcycles, given the ease and lower costs, this trend is worrisome as the number of vulnerable users as well as those impacted by traffic crashes increases, sometimes masking a shift from pedestrian or bicycle casualties to motorcycle victims. These trends would be similar in regions such as Africa which also share the motorcycle-taxi (mototaxi) phenomenon.


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