June 29, 2015

IT’S NOT JUST GREECE: Puerto Rico is expected to default on more than $70 billion in debt, four times what Detroit owed when it went bankrupt. A report by economists Anne Krueger, Ranjit Teja, and Andrew Wolfe, nicely summarized in this WaPo explainer, points to the sort of fiscal mismanagement you’d expect in such a bankruptcy but also to federal policies that make things especially difficult for the island: the Jones Act, which requires all goods come on U.S. merchant marine vessels, thereby doubling shipping costs compared to nearby islands, and a minimum wage way too high for local conditions. (The WaPo’s Max Ehrenfreund finds the latter “surprising,” which is the opposite of what it is.) The population has been leaving in droves, presumably to more economically promising places.

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