Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Debt Restructuring

On Econofact, Daniel Bergstresser provides background information on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis. From his text:

  • Unlike U.S. municipalities, a U.S. territory cannot resort to Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy act.
  • The island’s economy benefited from corporate tax exemptions (until 2006) and from tax exemptions on interest paid by municipal bonds issued by Puerto Rico and its agencies (“triple tax exemption”).
  • Total bond indebtedness (face value) amounts to over $70 billion, about 70 percent of the island’s GDP. The island owes an additional $50 billion in unfunded pension obligations to its state employees and retirees. Different government-sponsored entities issued the debt, apparently representing different claims on the Commonwealth’s revenue streams.
  • Puerto Rican issuers were downgraded from investment grade status in 2014. In March 2015, governor Padilla announced that the island’s debt was unpayable.
  • Resolution has been delayed by disagreement about the borrowers’ capacity to repay.
  • Puerto Rico defaulted on its general obligation debt in June of 2016 and President Obama signed the “Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act” (PROMESA) law. This created an oversight board with the authority to oversee the island’s budget and facilitate restructuring talks. The law also created a bankruptcy-like “Title III” mechanism. The oversight board placed a moratorium on debt collection by the island’s creditors until May 1, 2017. On May 3 the island entered the debt restructuring process. Chief Justice John Roberts has assigned the case to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain, and the first hearing in that case is scheduled to occur on May 17.

Puerto Rico and its Control Board

In the FT, Eric Platt offers an update on the debt situation in Puerto Rico:

  • The U.S. territory carries a USD 70 billion debt burden.
  • It has defaulted multiple times over the past year, “including on bonds backed with a constitutional guarantee.”
  • It did not have access to a court-backed restructuring process until Congress recently passed and President Obama signed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa).
  • A seven-person control board controls the island’s finances and will oversee negotiations with creditors.
  • Puerto Rico has two weeks to submit a turnaround plan to the board.

Puerto Rico may Restructure its Debt

In the FT, Eric Platt reports that US Congress has passed emergency legislation allowing Puerto Rico to restructure its debt.

Unlike US cities and municipalities, Puerto Rico and other territories do not have access to protections under the US bankruptcy code.

The legislation gives the island and its debt-issuing entities that right, so long as they have made “good-faith” efforts to negotiate with creditors and have received sign-off from the control board.

With the deal, Puerto Rico will be able to continue funding basic services and avoid crippling lawsuits.