Readers, this is my last column. I wanted to thank my readers and the team at Reuters for a truly great ride. I’ve been covering municipal securities, market structure, pensions and bankruptcy for over three years. There have been a lot of big changes in America as the country seeks to recover from the global financial crisis. The crisis affected state and local governments by slowing revenues and investment in infrastructure. I don’t see this changing in the near term.
Our country is still wealthy according to global standards. We have the resources to make an equitable economy and protect the most vulnerable. But reform is necessary through all levels of government. As citizens and taxpayers, we all should demand this.
I’ve written about seven municipal bankruptcies. The biggest and most complex is beginning now in Puerto Rico. In March 2012 I first wrote that the Puerto Rico government would have solvency issues. Now this has come to pass. I wrote 76 columns about Puerto Rico, 74 of which were negative. The last two I wrote were somewhat positive because the government is beginning to take the hard steps of rationalizing its debt structure, reform spending and reduce the level of government employment. Puerto Rico is beginning a vital transformation process.
Puerto Rico has over $85 billion of debt outstanding. I’ve launched a research service for bondholders, Puerto Rico Clearinghouse, with attorney John Mudd to track the legal and legislative battles that will take place to restructure this debt.
Thanks to everyone for this great experience. The finances and borrowings of our government are critical matters. It’s been an honor to have this space to comment on them.