DEBT/ECONOMY/PUERTO RICO: “Debt from Puerto Rico is the top-performing bond investment of 2018, reflecting an unexpected improvement in the island’s economy and budding hopes for a settlement with creditors to resolve its continuing bankruptcy.
Most U.S. bonds have lost value this year because of rising interest rates, but an index of Puerto Rico municipal bonds has returned 14% year to date, the top performer out of 323 bond indexes maintained by S&P Dow Jones Indices. Prices of certain Puerto Rico bonds have more than doubled since the end of December.
The rally began in January, when Puerto Rico’s government revealed economic data showing previous estimates of the financial impact of Hurricane Maria were overly pessimistic. More recently, investors have been buying bonds in anticipation of substantive talks with bondholders to reach a consensual restructuring, bondholders and people involved in the negotiations said.
Despite signs of progress, living conditions remain difficult in Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory was contending with economic decay, government mismanagement and excessive debt even before two hurricanes struck the island last year. About 60% of children on the island lived below the poverty line in 2015, according to data from the Pew Research Center.”
-Matt Wirz, “Puerto Rico Bonds Are a Surprise Star Performer as Economy Starts to Mend,” The Wall Street Journal online, Mar. 15, 2018 08:00am