Puerto Rico has officially defaulted on its debt, and what happens next is pretty much anyone’s guess. With little, if any action in Congress, we will have to wait and see what is done to address the crisis.
CNN Money explains the crisis:
1. Puerto Rico is now in default. It paid only $628,000 of a $58 million debt payment that was due by Monday. This marks the first default in the island’s history.
2. In total, Puerto Rico owes about $70 billion to its creditors. Its governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, has said the government cannot pay all of its debt. He says the Puerto Rican economy is in a “death spiral.” He has put together a working group to come up with a plan by the end of the summer.
3. Puerto Rico is in a debt crisis because the government has overspent for years while the island’s economy has shrank. Puerto Rico has the same amount of debt that New York State has, but the population of Connecticut.
4. The island is supposed to pay a total of $483 million on Monday. Experts believe Puerto Rico will pay all of that except for $58 million that’s due to the Public Finance Cooperation.
5. Regular Puerto Ricans will suffer the most from the default, not Wall Street, since most of the Public Finance Cooperation debt is held by regular people on the island through credit unions. The government is strategically choosing not to pay this debt because these people are less likely to sue.
Since this interest-only payment was for Public Finance Corporation debt, the general obligation bond ratings should be unaffected, although this is an eerie warning to creditors nationwide.