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Puerto Rico's Default Hurts Local Investors The Most

Puerto Rico's Default Hurts Local Investors The Most

Things keep going from bad to worse in debt-swamped Puerto Rico. The island nation missed yet another round of debt payments on Monday, and many investors are concerned about the ultimate impact of a financial collapse in Puerto Rico.

In a new interview with WNYC, Puerto Rico Clearinghouse’s Cate Long said the complicated situation is still extremely dynamic, but that local investors will likely be hurt the most in the end.

“Generally the weakest debt was sold on-island because it was difficult to sell on the mainland because of SEC regulations,” Long explained. “So most likely those truly hurt the most will be on-island.”

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Long noted there are 18 classes of debt in Puerto Rico, and investors on the different tiers will see varying degrees of impact.

Long places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Puerto Rican government.

“It takes 45 days to get electricity in Puerto Rico. It takes 160 days to register your property. So it’s just very hard in terms of creating economic activity to get things done in Puerto Rico.”

She concluded that the Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico has essentially become a Ponzi scheme at this point.

“Over the last number of years it’s kind of become a Ponzi scheme where it moves money from one side of the government to another, and borrows from the markets and pays back, and it’s just basically become insolvent,” she said.

The Market Vectors ETF Trust (NYSE: HYD) is down 0.4 percent in early Monday trading.

Disclosure: The author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.


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