Last week Puerto Rico filed for municipal bankruptcy with a total of $123 billion in debt and pension obligations. It is the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, far exceeding Detroit’s $18 billion bankruptcy filing in 2013.
Governor Ricardo Rossello said, “Given the deficit that we inherited, it is my responsibility to guarantee the best interests of the Puerto Rican people.”
The court proceedings could potentially make the island solvent again for the first time in decades. However, many of the prominent Wall Street firms who own Puerto Rico’s bonds are not too happy about the bankruptcy filing because they fear they won’t get paid back the money they are owed.
Puerto Rico has been in an economic recession for more than a decade and the unemployment rate is 11.5 percent. The island’s financial crisis is so bad that Congress installed a Fiscal Oversight Board last year to call the financial shots. However, the board stopped negotiations with creditors last week and filed for bankruptcy.
While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump said he would not “bail out” Puerto Rico. He repeated that again in a recent tweet. His budget director also said that the White House pushed hard to ensure no federal dollars would go toward paying the island’s debts in the latest Congressional budget deal.
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