Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A nova "junta" latino-americana

Our Bankrupt Policy for Puerto Rico, por David Dayen (The American Prospect):

The endgame for Puerto Rico’s debilitating fiscal crisis has begun. Unable to manage a $74 billion debt that has accompanied a decade of recession, spikes in poverty, and a mass exodus of citizens, the island will now turn to federal courts to approve a resolution with its creditors.

But in many ways nothing has changed for Puerto Rico. The congressionally-imposed fiscal oversight board, known locally as the junta, remains in control as lead negotiator in restructuring talks. Whether Puerto Rico’s three million citizens get a fair deal or a continuation of harsh austerity depends almost entirely on seven unelected, unaccountable technocrats. (...)

But there are some key differences between Title III and a normal bankruptcy process. First of all, under Section 308(a) of PROMESA, the decision for who hears this case, bizarrely, is up to Chief Justice John Roberts. He selected U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain to preside. While Swain has some experience in financial cases, including the prosecution of five former employees of Bernie Madoff, she's not a bankruptcy judge. And this puts the case in the heart of New York City, the nation's financial center, rather than Puerto Rico.

In addition, the elected government of Puerto Rico plays almost no role in this fight. The junta, an appointed body ushered in by PROMESA, actually filed the Title III order, and serves as the government’s “representative” in court. Only the junta can introduce or modify “adjustment plans” for the $73 billion in debts. They will be the sole negotiator with bondholders, not anyone approved by the Puerto Rican people through a formal vote.

Lawyers for bondholders have openly stated that the junta will enable them to win “fairer” outcomes in negotiations. In a little-noticed development, hedge fund creditors with constitutionally protected general obligation bonds reportedly had a deal nearly in place this week, but the junta intervened and stopped the talks. The Associated Press reported that the government offered general obligation bondholders 50 cents on the dollar, so that’s a benchmark we can use to assess the junta’s performance. (...)

Furthermore, you cannot look at Title III in a vacuum. In March, the junta forced Puerto Rico into more austerity, a necessary condition of invoking the bankruptcy-like process. This blueprint added $39.6 billion in revenue hikes and budget cutbacks, some of them rather vicious, in particular hits to the health system and public education. Public pension spending must drop by 10 percent within three years, through a conversion to 401(k) plans from defined-benefit awards. Water rates must go up. Core government operations must be privatized. Furloughs starting July 1 must be initiated; the school year would be cut by two months as a result.

This savagery was required under PROMESA before triggering Title III. Activists have protested forced austerity for months, blaming the junta for prolonging the pain. On May Day, police broke up demonstrations with tear gas. Professionals continue to abandon the island, particularly medical students. And nothing the junta has instituted thus far has done anything for the island economy; Puerto Rico’s 12 percent unemployment rate has worsened every month for over four years, and those numbers have not improved since the junta took over.
[Pelos vistos "junta" são mais familiar a ouvidos latino-americanos do que troi... heptoika]

1 comment:

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