Puerto Rico Makes Unprecedented Move To Restructure Billions In Debt

Puerto Rico announces historic debt restructuring in court

Puerto Rico has announced a historic restructuring of its public debt in what might be the biggest bankruptcy ever in the United States.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) " Puerto Rico's governor has announced a historic restructuring of a portion of the USA territory's $70B debt through courts after negotiations with bondholders failed.

The announcement came a day after major creditors sued Puerto Rico over defaults to its bonds.

The move, announced by Governor Ricardo Rossello and then followed by a filing in US court in San Juan, came after he and his predecessor both failed to persuade the island's major creditors to accept less than they're owed and the government faced an onslaught of new lawsuits stemming from a series of defaults.

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It was not immediately clear just how much of Puerto Rico's roughly $70 billion of debt is included in the bankruptcy filing. Puerto Rico, meantime, will find no easy fix for an economic crisis that has driven many thousands of its citizens to the USA mainland during a decade-long recession and years of borrowing to cover budget gaps.

The financial problems of the Caribbean island - which has been locked in recession for more than a decade - have shaken the large market for US municipal bonds, especially after Detroit declared bankruptcy in 2013.

Of course, Detroit is a city, and Puerto Rico is a territory. The population has fallen by about 10 percent in the past decade. Nor can Puerto Rico refinance its debt-it no longer has access to the capital markets, " the oversight board said in the court filing.

Puerto Rico's long-running debt crisis-a case study in blue model failure, brought about by a bloated public sector workforce and inability to control pension obligations-reached a critical milestone yesterday as the island filed for bankruptcy under a special system created by Congress previous year. The cost of fully paying off their debt would be around $3.5 billion a year.

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