Author: Ricardo R. Fuentes Ramírez

On the Puerto Rican Debt Crisis: A Reply to Krugman


Paul Krugman’s analysis of the Puerto Rican debt crisis has subtle problems, but with big policy implications. Overall, his piece hits key points that other economists continue to miss: 1) Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis is closely related to its economic depression, 2) the government patched up the problem with borrowing, instead of going to the root of it, 3) Puerto Rico’s low rate of labor force participation is not necessarily a result of welfare, 4) the situation is exacerbated by the Jones Act, 5) too much austerity can be self-defeating, and 6) it would be a terrible idea to give the hedge funds what they want (destroying the island’s education system in the name of fiscal responsibility). All of these points demonstrate Krugman understands the Puerto Rican case better than many Puerto Rican policy makers and economists. However, the subtle problems in his piece should be further discussed.