Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

March 2001: Economic Challenges Ahead

An Analysis of Puerto Rico`s Economy in 2000 and Outlook for 2001 & 2002

If 1999 was marked by record growth in the economy, pushed by expenditures related to Hurricane Georges, year 2000 reflected a more down to earth note. Although the growth rate was not insignificant, certain developments and events characterized our economy during 2000 that will influence the near term prospects as well as the direction of economic policy. For instance, a reduction in the rate of growth of construction investment, rise in consumer prices, loss of manufacturing jobs, rapid increases in oil prices, and not the least, the results of the November elections both here and in the US. In a previous issue, we examined the economic implications of the general election for PR. Let`s find out in detail what happened in 2000 and the prospects for the immediate future.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

February 2001: Thou Shall Not

An Analysis of Puerto Rico’s New Banking & Insurance Laws

During this millennium year, the rules that defined the boundaries between insurance, investment banking, and commercial banking sectors for more than half a century are gone. Powered by the new federal law Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, businesses in these sectors are creating holding companies that will enable them to tap into each other’s markets. What are the advantages and disadvantages of commercial banking participation in the sale of insurance products? Learn the implications of the participation of the banking sector in the local insurance business in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

January 2001: The Housing Affair

Key Factors and Trends that Impact Housing Activity in Puerto Rico

The pace of home building in Puerto Rico during the 1990`s differs sharply from that of the previous decade. From 1980 to 1990, residential construction activity scarcely grew 3% a year. In the 1990`s, however, housing activity accelerated considerably and its importance in the economy increased. In light of this recent experience, an important economic question emerges: Will this faster growth of the 90`s continue in the years ahead, will it stabilize, or will it slow? Many economic factors affect housing. Among the most important of these factors is demographics – influences such as population growth, changes in the age structure, and changes in the formation of households. Find out how growth in the number of households will impact the demand for housing.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

December 2000: The Legacy of 2000

A Review of Puerto Rico`s Top Economic Stories

What a year it was expected to be! By the start of 2000, interest rate fears plunged stocks on Wall Street. Companies all over the world spent billions of dollars to crush the millennium bug. Then, January 1 came and nothing happened! Year 2000 ends with a legacy of escalating oil prices, plunging world equity markets, the start of a US and PR economic slowdown, a reduction in local public investment, cost overruns in major infrastructure projects, spiraling costs of the Health Reform Plan, huge public debt, spiraling inflation, and fewer jobs. While, on balance, the PR economy posted positive growth of 3.1%, this trend is not expected in 2001. The results of the recent elections on the Island pose new policy and economic challenges. Find out how Puerto Rico`s top economic events shaped the economy in 2000.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

November 2000: Blast-off to a New Economic Agenda

The Meaning of Election 2000 for the PR Economy

During the past month, Puerto Rico and the United States experienced one of the closest electoral contests in their histories. Multiple political and economic factors created an environment of uncertainty and anxiety over the economic future of these economies. Elections are over in PR but the US has been immersed in a deadlocked Presidential race. In Puerto Rico, the first woman to be elected Governor, Sila Calderón, prevailed by a wide margin. In contrast, the US Presidential winner, George W. Bush, will not have a clear mandate. Find out what the results of Election 2000 mean for the PR economy; how much will the new programs cost; what challenges Governor elect Calderón will face, and what impact, if any, the US electoral results will have on our economy?

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

October 2000: Election 2000

Inside the economic platforms of PR`s political parties

Puerto Rico`s economic development has been inexorably linked to its political status. Although the island still has profound ideological divisions to settle, the fundamental differences among the current political parties are essentially based on the implementation of alternatives for economic development in the Island. These have ranged from industrialization in the early 50`s to the Petrochemical complex in Guayanilla in the 70`s along with Section 936 in the late 70`s and 80`s to the Tourism industry in the 90`s. Find out how the choice made in the 2000 election may influence for many years the direction of public policy and the institutions of government.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

September 2000: Manufacturing Productivity Growth in the US

A Key to the “New Economy”

Faster productivity growth has been a principle reason for the U.S. economy`s stellar performance since the mid-90s. A major factor in the overall economy`s improved productivity performance has been the even more impressive productivity performance in the manufacturing sector. Why has productivity growth in manufacturing outstripped that of the economy as a whole? What industries have been the leaders? Why have these industries been the leaders? Find out more about the manufacturing productivity renaissance, a key to the `new economy.`

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

August 2000: Oil Prices Strike Again

Will they bring the PR economy down?

World oil prices by OPEC and the subsequent increases in gasoline prices and electricity bills have taken center stage. Between March 1999 and June 2000, the average monthly world price of a barrel of oil increased from $14.72 to $30.27. This increase is not demand-driven since world consumption, measured in millions of daily barrels, only increased 1.7% on an annual basis during the past five years. What are the factors leading to this steep increase in prices? How will this oil turmoil impact PR? Are gasoline prices really high locally compared to other countries? Find out if we are less vulnerable now than before to oil price shocks?

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

July 2000: Cyberspace goes Wireless

Will Puerto Ricans go online anywhere at anytime?

Tired of owning 5 remote controls: one for TV, another for VCR, another for DVD…The consumer electronics revolution has just begun and people are beginning to own complicated gadgets, serving many functions in one small unit.  The new generation of mobile phones comes equipped with internet access.  Why are mobile phone companies pursuing Internet access?  Learn about Puerto Rico`s booming Internet business. What factors led the Internet to penetrate Puerto Rico faster than the rest of the world and how will this impact the evolution of Puerto Rican cyberspace?  Finally, find out how wireless Internet access will expand Puerto Rico`s cybernetic population even more.

Puerto Rico Economic Pulse ©

June 2000: All Aboard!

Will Puerto Rico embrace the train with a passion?

Over a hundred years ago, Puerto Rico operated many trains. Fifty years ago, their demise signaled a new era of transportation chaos in San Juan. Find out how a vicious cycle of road construction, car usage and suburban sprawl has led Puerto Rico to depend entirely on the automobile for transportation. As a result, over twenty years ago, local planners began dreaming of an urban train designed to serve the needs of the San Juan Metropolitan Area (SJMA). Result: Tren Urbano (TU). How much will TU cost? How much will it impact your wallet? Who will pay for TU’s operational deficit? Learn the challenges TU faces in achieving its goal of reducing traffic congestion. What complimentary policies are needed?