01/2019: The Banking Sector’s Current Impasse

Remaking Puerto Rico's Banking SectorThe remaking of PR’s economic landscape will reshape banks
The last fifteen years witnessed a remaking of PR’s banking sector that continues to unfold. The process has been largely uneven as consolidations, the bursting of a real estate bubble, an economic depression, population decline, and the default of public debt have all had a direct impact on the sector’s core capabilities and operations. In response to this, banks were forced to retrench their activities, mitigate risk, and become risk-averse. This, understandably, has resulted in a more passive sector, one that, in the future, stands to react rather than lead the creation of new economic opportunities. In this sense, unless the recovery funds are managed to create the right incentives for them to remain on the Island, the banks will simply not leverage capital to jumpstart much needed economic growth, or support development, regardless of continued interest rate hikes. The stakes at the moment could not be higher. PR must get it right this time.

Q4-2018: Less Than the Sum of Its Parts

Less Than the Sum of Its Parts How Puerto Rico´s Q4-2018 Economic Indices Performed

How Puerto Rico´s Q4-2018 Economic Indices Performed

The end of 2018 left a rather enigmatic picture of PR’s economy as most indices performed well in Q4 with the notable exception of the key leading indicator. It looks as if the accumulation of delays in the disbursements of reconstruction funds coupled with continuous decline in the resident population and the pending consequences of the federal government shutdown started in December—including the possibility that funds initially appropriated to PR could be reallocated to finance the President’s wall—simply worsened expectations Island-wide. At the sector level, manufacturing continued to pull its weight on the back of US demand in spite of changes to the tax code whilst banking slowed down slightly. The first $1.5 bn recently disbursed CDBG-DR funds surely bode well for economic activity over the next few quarters. It remains to be seen, however, whether these will be enough to sustain economic growth in the long-term.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

03/2018: Tic-Tac-Toe – Game Changer

Hurricane Maria changed Puerto Rico’s economic forecast

Tic-Tac_ToeDespite geopolitical tensions between the US and North Korea, most of the world and the US posted gains in real economic growth during FY2017. On November 2016, President Trump was elected in the US and Governor Rosello was elected in PR. A lot has happened since then: a US Congress mandated oversight fiscal board with ample powers over the Island; two hurricanes in September 2017 that left destruction and devastation in an economy already in economic depression; destruction of infrastructure, and a flurry of reforms and fiscal plans. Economic recovery in PR will take many years; require billons of disaster monies; and a transformation of our economy towards other key sectors, besides manufacturing. Governance has become more complex with clashes between the PR Government and the Oversight Fiscal Board. The impossible occurred when bankruptcy proceedings for PR under Title III of PROMESA began in May 2017. Find out how Tic-Tac-Toe impacts Puerto Rico’s economic outlook.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

02/2018: Out With the Old, In With the New – Part II

The Government’s Revised Fiscal Plan stumbles on assumptions

Out with the Old In with the NewEconomic modeling is both science and art. Failure to take this seriously leads to wrong decision-making scenarios in PR. If that was acceptable in the past, it is not at present. Old ways relied on a relatively stable population to forecast growth and fiscal revenues. As per the revised fiscal plan, this appears not to be the case. Old ways relied on government revenues forecasted, in many cases, as trend of past collections. Now, these revenues must be tied to demographics and economic growth in the aftermath of hurricane Maria. Old ways relied on GNP growth forecasts by the PR Planning Board. Now, the forecasts in the fiscal plan need to use a coherent economic model of PR’s economy rather than mere assumptions with irreconcilable results. This issue questions the assumptions and results of the most recently revised Central Government Fiscal Plan.

Puerto Rico Compass ©

Q42017: A Shattered Economy After Hurricane Maria

Shattered EconomyAnalysis of 4th Quarter 2017 economic indices

At the end of 2017, PR exhibits a shattered economy with a broken infrastructure due the devastation of hurricane Maria on September 20, 2017. As of January 2018, more than 400,000 clients or 30% of PREPA’s clients still had no electricity. As analyzed in our previous Q3 issue, a fast recovery of electricity is a key factor in the island’s economic recovery. Other basic infrastructure, such as, water, communications, and roads continue to have problems. The lack of a fully operational and reliable infrastructure is hitting businesses as well as households. With lower demand and rising operational costs, many businesses have reached the point of no return and have closed or filed for bankruptcy. Families have chosen the option of mass migration, particularly to the USA. HCCG’s six quarterly economic indices highlight the effects of the broken infrastructure and a weak economy in the post Maria era.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

01/2018: Out With the Old, In With the New – Part I

Elements of a much-needed economic plan
Out With The Old In With The NewOut with the old and in with the new is a two-part analysis of key strategic elements that Puerto Rico’s economic plan must outline and execute if we are to compete and regain our title of the “Shining Star of the Caribbean”. Infrastructure is a recurrent topic in economic growth and development strategies. Hurricane Maria devastated the Island’s electrical system, highways, ports, water facilities, and telecommunication systems. To this date, neither the Government nor the Supervisory Fiscal Board have communicated the outline of such a comprehensive Plan and instead, the Governor has announced the need to privatize the PR Electrical Power Authority and the Board has insisted on a revised Fiscal Plan. Meanwhile, government liquidity and credibility issues threaten the continuation of government services and timid recovery efforts. This Issue addresses what needs to change from the old to the new focus in strategy and execution if PR is to compete, worldwide.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

Nov 2017 The Other Side of Maria: Poverty Uncovered

A comparative analysis over time
Since 1970, official statistics corroborate that Puerto Rico made significant advances on the war on poverty. Economic growth and federal assistance in the Island were responsible for poverty reduction. On September 20th, hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico leaving major economic damages and wiping out most of the vegetation in the Island. Besides its physical and economic impact, Maria also uncovered the poverty that exists in the Island and which makes us the poorest jurisdiction among the 50 States and PR. The face of poverty includes children, women, blacks, and the mountain area in PR. This issue addresses how poverty has changed in PR, what was the profile of poor people before Maria, what are the welfare programs to fight poverty, and what will it take to halt the increase in poverty levels caused after hurricane Maria.

Poverty Uncovered

Puerto Rico Compass ©

Q32017: PR’s Infrastructure: A House of Cards?

During 3Q 2017, two Category 5 hurricanes hit the Island causing unprecedented damages to the economy. Damages which could conservatively surpass $115 bn. The Island’s power grid was practically destroyed with massive damages, in roads, bridges, ports, airports, buildings, equipment, housing, and telecommunications, among others. All economic sectors depend on infrastructure to thrive; some sectors rely more than others but a good and consistent infrastructure is a must to be competitive in this global economy. Hurricanes Irma and Maria demonstrated that much of the PR alleged robust infrastructure was only a house of cards and when the winds blew out the electrical grid, all the house collapsed. This issue analyzes the repercussions of a broken infrastructure and how this impacts HCCG’s six quarterly economic indices in 3rd Q 2017.

Hurricane María over Puerto Rico
Source: NOAA
Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

Sep/Oct 2017: Puerto Rico – Submerged and in Darkness

Highlights of Economic Impact of Hurricane Maria

More than a month has passed since hurricane Maria ravaged the island of PR. The recovery efforts have been slow and insufficient. As of today, 25% of households have no water service; 75% remain in darkness without electricity; 35% of Puerto Ricans do not have telecommunications services. Sensing this lack of progress, many Puerto Ricans have opted to leave the island in search of greener pastures in the mainland. Florida alone has received upwards of 67,000 “refugees” since the storm hit the island on September 20th. The situation is dire to say the least. With a destroyed infrastructure, lack of water and power, and an accelerated pace of emigration, businesses and government desperately need to perform a comprehensive assessment of economic damages, identify risks and opportunities, measure, manage, and minimize risks now and in next few years. This Pulse is a teaser of a comprehensive study HCCG is preparing regarding the impact of hurricane Maria and how it forges Puerto Rico’s economic future.

How Hurricane María forges PR's Economic Future
Click on the image to order the Full How Hurricane María forges Puerto Rico’s Economic Future Economic Impact Study