Wall Street is trying to siphon money from a distressed Puerto Rico in latest episode of “Disaster Capitalism”
According to a report from Jacobin, Wall Street is attempting to squeeze every last dime out of Puerto Rico that it can while using what Jacobin reporter Lara Merling calls “indefensible” cuts to public servants of Puerto Rico.
The conservative leaning Wall Street Journal tastelessly referred to Puerto Rico’s debt as the top performing bond investment of 2018, clearly showing that investors are not take into full consideration the actual prospects of Puerto Rico’s economy following the devastation of the island territory after Hurricane Maria.
Bond prices have surged following the release of a new fiscal plan released by the Puerto Rican government, which predicts a much higher fiscal surplus over the next six years than their previous version, which was released in February. The Board and the Puerto Rican government have so far refused to certify any of the previous four versions of the debt repayment plan released by the Governor of Puerto Rico. The surplus has increased with each new version, from the initial plan in January, which predicted a $3.4 billion surplus, to the newest version in April which predicts a $6.3 billion surplus.
Even though this plan forecasts the largest overall surplus, Puerto Rico will experience no overall economic growth, and every version of the plan includes large cuts to essential services. The government is also planning to save money by privatizing many government agencies and services.
As Merling writes:
Immediately after the storm, it seemed rather odd that some hedge funds were buying distressed bonds in bulk, mostly at huge discounts, given the low probability that they would ever be repaid. Yet, under the latest proposed fiscal plan, it looks like their bet might result in a substantial payout. Those who predicted that Puerto Rico would not be able to make any debt payments in the near future, at least until it fully recovered, were not wrong about the situation on the island, but they did not consider the scenario that relief funds could become a source for creditor bailouts. Indeed, allowing the people of Puerto Rico to continue suffering, while rewarding bondholders ― many of whom purchased their bonds as a speculative investment at a steep discount ― is indefensible.