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Puerto Rico Declares a Form of Bankruptcy
06 May 2017, 01:54 | Lowell Little
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Last year, the US Congress gave Puerto Rico an ability to file for bankruptcy under a law called the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Actor or PROMESA-which means promise in Spanish.
Puerto Rico teetered into insolvency Wednesday as the chronically troubled USA territory of 3.4 million citizens buckled under its ever-increasing debt, which stands at $73 billion.
With $70 billion in debt, a 45 percent poverty rate and near-insolvent public health and pension systems, a torrent of litigation could force Puerto Rico into a so-called Title III proceeding - an in-court debt-cutting process similar to USA bankruptcy. Puerto Rico is preparing to cut public employee benefits, increase tax revenue, hike water rates and privatize government operations, among other things.
Puerto Rico's labor participation rate is only about two-thirds that of the USA mainland.
USA territories are barred from filing for a traditional bankruptcy like most U.S. cities or states. Rather, Congress passed a law last year specifically to deal with Puerto Rico's debt problem, which has been simmering for years. As this case moves forward, it will represent the largest bankruptcy ever experienced by the US municipal bond market, estimated to be worth $3.8 trillion. Unless negotiations result in a consensual. Negotiations broke down in recent days and creditors filed multiple lawsuits seeking to recover their money when a freeze on litigation expired this week. The judge will ultimately decide how and which Puerto Rico assets will be distributed to bondholders.
Perhaps the most unique element of Detroit's bankruptcy was the role played by its local art museum.
"It's going to be uncomfortable for some", Barbarosh said.
According to the US Census Bureau, 46 percent of Puerto Rico's residents live below federal poverty levels, compared to the national average of 14 percent and 36 percent in Detroit.
Puerto Rico has filed for bankruptcy and sought relief under a law enacted to help the U.S. commonwealth restructure its massive debt load, a media report said.
Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean that is about the size of CT with half its gross domestic product, needs billions to stimulate its economy and upgrade its infrastructure, including its water and electrical delivery systems as well as waste collection.
Caribbean Business reported in September 2016 that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had allegedly requested documents from bond underwriters as part of a probe into a $3.5 billion general-obligation bond issue of 2014, and a $600 million Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority bond issue in 2013.
Rossello's fiscal plan for the island, approved by the oversight board in March, forecasts Puerto Rico having only $800 million a year to pay debt, less than a quarter of what it owes.
Puerto Rico's situation is not dissimilar to Detroit's, which was the culmination of years of economic stagnation and bad policy.
Soto's 9th District includes the largest Puerto Rican population in Central Florida, many of them who have moved to the area to find work and many more who still have family on the island. This is a debt restructuring plan that is carried out under the auspices of the court.
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