90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Puerto Rico Blues

Sunny Puerto Rico hits the skids. Its debt goes to junk level. Puerto Rico’s in trouble. We’ll go south to ask why.

A demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask joins a teacher's protest outside the Department of Labor in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Striking school teachers are gathering in Puerto Rico's capital to talk with government officials about recent changes to their retirement system as part of a two-day walkout. (AP)

A demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask joins a teacher’s protest outside the Department of Labor in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Striking school teachers are gathering in Puerto Rico’s capital to talk with government officials about recent changes to their retirement system as part of a two-day walkout. (AP)

Sunny Puerto Rico is in trouble.  Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory.  Puerto Ricans are American citizens.  From its beaches and pool bars, Puerto Rico looks great.  But stroll into real Puerto Rico and this American territory in the Caribbean is a mess.  Schools, roads falling apart.  Business way down.  Crime, bad.  Drug trade bad.  Last week, Puerto Rico’s enormous debt was downgraded to junk status.  Puerto Ricans can easily leave for the US mainland, and they are – in greater numbers than any time since the 1950s. This hour On Point:  Puerto Rico blues.  We go to Puerto Rico.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Dan Rosenheck, professional services correspondent and sports editor at The Economist.

Carlos Colon de Armas, professor of finance and acting dean at the University of Puerto Rico’s Graduate School of Business.

Orlando Sotomayor, professor of economics at the University of Puerto Rico.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Economy and Crime Spur New Puerto Rican Exodus — “Puerto Rico’s slow-motion economic crisis skidded to a new low last week when both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor, including increasing taxes and rebalancing pensions. But that is only the latest in a sharp decline leading to widespread fears about Puerto Rico’s future. In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas.”

 The Economist: Buying on credit is so nice — “The macroeconomic situation in Puerto Rico is strikingly similar to that of Greece in 2010. It uses an expensive currency it cannot control. Its citizens eagerly dodge paying taxes to a bloated public sector. And its officials protest too much that default is unthinkable. However, there have been no riots or calls for a change of government.”

The Wall Street Journal: Puerto Rico Seeking $2 Billion Debt Offering –”Puerto Rico has said it doesn’t need to borrow before its fiscal year ends in June. But it wants to show investors it can still borrow money in the public bond market despite a sharp rise in yields on its bonds, 15% unemployment and $70 billion in outstanding debt, officials have said.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 1, 2014
Pro-democracy protesters hold umbrellas under heavy rain in a main street near the government headquarters in Hong Kong late Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The protesters demanded that Hong Kong's top leader meet with them on Tuesday and threatened wider actions if he did not, after he said China would not budge in its decision to limit voting reforms in the Asian financial hub. (AP)

China, democracy and Hong Kong. They’re in the streets in Hong Kong with their “Umbrella Revolution.” What now?

Oct 1, 2014
Actress Eva Longoria, center, Henry R. Munoz III, co-founder of the Latino Victory Project, left, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, are seated at an event launching The Latino Victory Project, a Latino political action committee, at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, May 5, 2014. (AP)

Latino America. It is very large and growing very fast. How will it move the country?

RECENT
SHOWS
Sep 30, 2014
In this Jan. 15, 2013, photo, Rosser Pryor, Co-owner and President of Factory Automation Systems, examines a new high-performance industrial robot at the company's Atlanta facility.  (AP)

Nicholas Carr says automation, all over, is turning us into zombies. Out of touch with the world. He’s with us.

 
Sep 30, 2014
St. Louis county police officers advance on protestors trying to shut down Interstate 70 in Berkeley, Mo. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 near the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. where Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year old was shot and killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9. (AP)

Police shootings, cop culture, body cameras. And the big debate over how to protect the public and the police.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Transcript: Peter Thiel Wants Us All To Go From ‘Zero To One’
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel on innovation, technological failure and humanity’s uncertain future.

More »
Comment
 
Transcript: Sexual Violence Under ISIS Control
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

A transcript from our September 25, 2014 conversation on the Islamic State and sexual violence.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: September 26, 2014
Friday, Sep 26, 2014

All of you love to listen to old broadcasts when we play them, and Taylor Swift loves the Internet.

More »
Comment