FINANCIAL VULTURES HAVE BEEN CIRCLING THE CURRENT PANDEMIC SINCE 2017. ALMOST AS IF THEY KNEW SOMETHING

by Silviu “Silview” Costinescu

I’ve shown you in my previous articles that the weather and the climate are cash-cows for the financial elites whether they cool down or heat up. And you thought pandemics are anything less? I’m afraid not….

On June 28, 2017, The World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) launched specialized bonds aimed at providing financial support to the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), a facility created by the World Bank to channel surge funding to developing countries facing the risk of a pandemic.

“This marks the first time that World Bank bonds are being used to finance efforts against infectious diseases, and the first time that pandemic risk in low-income countries is being transferred to the financial markets.”

The World Bank – June 28, 2017

Going through the IMF/IBRD official press-release published with the launch of this financial “A-Team”, it didn’t take long to spot something very interesting:

Source

 World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “We are moving away from the cycle of panic and neglect that has characterized so much of our approach to pandemics. We are leveraging our capital market expertise, our deep understanding of the health sector, our experience overcoming development challenges, and our strong relationships with donors and the insurance industry to serve the world’s poorest people. This creates an entirely new market for pandemic risk insurance. Drawing on lessons from the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, the Facility will help improve health security for everyone. I especially want to thank the World Health Organization and the governments of Japan and Germany for their support in launching this new mechanism.”

The World Bank announced the creation of the PEF in May 2016 at the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Governors meeting in Sendai, Japan. The PEF will quickly channel funding to countries facing a major disease outbreak with pandemic potential. “Its unique financing structure combines funding from the bonds issued today with over-the-counter derivatives that transfer pandemic outbreak risk to derivative counterparties. The structure was designed to attract a wider, more diverse set of investors.”

According to The World Bank, the PEF has two windows. The first is an ‘insurance’ window with premiums funded by Japan and Germany, consisting of bonds and swaps including those executed today. The second is a ‘cash’ window, for which Germany provided initial funding of Euro 50 million. The cash window will be available from 2018 for the containment of diseases that may not be eligible for funding under the insurance window.

The bonds and derivatives for the PEF’s ‘insurance’ window were developed by the World Bank Treasury in cooperation with leading reinsurance companies Swiss Re and Munich Re. AIR Worldwide was the sole modeler, using the AIR Pandemic Model to provide expert risk analysis. Swiss Re Capital Markets is the sole book runner for the transaction. Swiss Re Capital Markets and Munich Re are the joint structuring agents. Munich Re and GC Securities, a division of MMC Securities LLC are co-managers.

Swiss Re Capital Markets Limited, Munich Re and GC Securities were also joint arrangers on the derivatives transactions.

The bonds will be issued under IBRD’s “capital at risk” program because investors bear the risk of losing part or all of their investment in the bond if an epidemic event triggers pay-outs to eligible countries covered under the PEF.

The PEF covers six viruses that are most likely to cause a pandemic. These include new Orthomyxoviruses (new influenza pandemic virus A), Coronaviridae (SARS, MERS), Filoviridae (Ebola, Marburg) and other zoonotic diseases (Crimean Congo, Rift Valley, Lassa fever).

PEF financing to eligible countries will be triggered when an outbreak reaches predetermined levels of contagion, including number of deaths; the speed of the spread of the disease; and whether the disease crosses international borders. The determinations for the trigger are made based on publicly available data as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Countries eligible for financing under the PEF’s insurance window are members of the International Development Association (IDA), the institution of the World Bank Group that provides concessional finance for the world’s poorest countries. The PEF will be governed by a Steering Body, whose voting members include Japan and Germany. WHO and the World Bank serve as non-voting members.

In the past ten years, The World Bank brags about having has executed close to $2 billion in catastrophe risk transactions.

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