Sovereign financial disaster risk management: The case of Mexico

In 2006, Mexico became the first transition country to transfer part of its public-sector natural catastrophe risk to the international reinsurance and capital markets. The Mexican case is of considerable interest to highly exposed transition and developing countries, many of which are considering similar transactions. Risk financing instruments can assure governments of sufficient post-disaster capital to provide emergency response, disaster relief to the affected population, and repair public infrastructure. The costs of financial instruments, however, can greatly exceed expected losses, and for this reason, it is important to closely examine their benefits and alternatives. This paper analyzes the Mexican case from the perspective of the risk cedent (the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit), which was informed by analyses provided by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The rationale for a government to insure its contingent liabilities is presented along with the fiscal, legal, and institutional context of the Mexican transaction. Using publicly available data, the paper scrutinizes the choice the authorities faced between two different risk-transfer instruments: reinsurance and a catastrophe bond. Making use of IIASA's catastrophe simulation model (CATSIM), this financial risk management decision is analyzed within the context of a public investment decision.

Research Interest
Reserach Authors
Cardenas, Victor
Hochrainer, Stefan
Mechler, Reinhard
Pflug, Georg
Linnerooth-Bayer, Joanne