Puerto Rico’s ongoing economic crisis - AEI

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Event Summary

On Wednesday, Jose Carrion, chairman of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, gave a keynote address at AEI on Puerto Rico’s economic and political difficulties. Bringing attention to the role of the board, he highlighted the challenges that lie ahead of Puerto Rico and the steps the board is taking to address these challenges.

After the keynote address and Q&A, a panel — including two members of the board and nationally renowned experts on Puerto Rico — discussed challenges and much-needed reforms for Puerto Rico, especially in light of the expiration of credit protection on May 1.

Andrew Biggs of AEI and the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico highlighted the pension and health care reforms Puerto Rico should undertake. Anne Krueger  from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies discussed implementing labor market reforms — especially lowering the minimum wage for youth and introducing more apprenticeship programs. Harvard Kennedy School’s Antonio Weiss pointed out that while the PROMESA Act is useful, Congress should also use Medicaid reforms and the earned income tax credit to stimulate growth in Puerto Rico. Finally, AEI’s Desmond Lachman emphasized the lessons from Greece that can be applied to Puerto Rico.

— Ryan Nabil

Event Description

The Puerto Rican government and the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico created by Congress last year have their hands full. Puerto Rico remains in a decade-long economic slump, has seen one-tenth of its population leave the island, and cannot service its $70 billion in public debt.

This conference will address the fundamental economic reforms Puerto Rico needs to revitalize its failed political economy and restore order to its public finances.

Join the conversation on social media by following @AEI and @AEIecon on Twitter and Facebook.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


9:45 AM

10:00 AM
Alex J. Pollock, R Street Institute

10:05 AM
Keynote presentation:
Jose Carrion, Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico

10:20 AM

10:30 AM
Introduction of the panelists:
Alex J. Pollock, R Street Institute

10:35 AM
Opening statements

Andrew G. Biggs, AEI; Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico
Anne Krueger, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Desmond Lachman, AEI
Antonio Weiss, Harvard Kennedy School

Alex J. Pollock, R Street Institute

11:30 AM
Discussion among panelists

11:40 AM

12:00 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Ryan Nabil at [email protected], 202.419.5204.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Event Speaker Biographies

Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at AEI, where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public-sector pay and benefits. Before joining AEI, he was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security. He has published widely in academic publications and newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Dr. Biggs co-vice chair of a blue-ribbon panel focused on underfunding of public-sector pension plans.

Jose Carrion is chairman of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. He has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance brokerage industry. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in history and political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a diploma in risk and insurance and an M.B.A. degree from Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University. Upon graduation, he joined the Puerto Rico office of Aon Risk Services, where he first served as client service representative and, later, client service director. In 1998 he was appointed senior vice president and went on to become president in 2000. In 2001, Mr. Carrion cofounded his own firm, Carrion, Laffitte & Casellas, serving as lead owner and one of the principal producers. In 2012, Carrion, Laffitte & Casellas was purchased by Hub International. Following the purchase, Mr. Carrion was retained as president of Hub/Carrion, Laffitte & Casellas, leading strategic planning, budgeting, and production efforts across all lines, and as a member of HUB International’s executive management committee. He has had leadership roles in numerous professional and community organizations, including the Young Presidents’ Organizations, the Automobile Accidents Compensation Authority, the State Insurance Fund, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce, the American Cancer Society, the Ponce Museum of Art, the San Juan Rotary Club, and the Salvation Army.

Anne Krueger is a senior research professor of international economics at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a senior fellow at the Stanford Center for International Development (SCID). She is the Herald L. and Caroline Ritch Professor Emeritus in Sciences and Humanities in the Economics Department at Stanford, and she was a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution and founding director of SCID. She was first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2006. Before Stanford, she was university professor of economics at Duke University, vice president for economics and research at the World Bank, and professor of economics at the University of Minnesota. She is a distinguished fellow and past president of the American Economic Association; a senior fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research; and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, and the American Philosophical Society. She has published extensively on international trade and finance, economic policy reform, and economic development. Dr. Krueger was the leader of a team asked by the Government Development Bank through the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Hamilton & Steen to provide a report assessing Puerto Rico’s macroeconomic situation and prospects. The report was delivered in June 2016, and the contract expired at the end of 2016.

Desmond Lachman joined AEI after serving as a managing director and chief emerging market economic strategist at Salomon Smith Barney. He previously served as deputy director in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Policy Development and Review Department and was active in staff formulation of IMF policies. He has written extensively on the global economic crisis, US housing market bust, US dollar, and strains in the euro area. At AEI, Dr. Lachman is focused on the global macroeconomy, global currency issues, and multilateral lending agencies.

Alex J. Pollock is a distinguished senior fellow at the R Street Institute. He was previously a resident fellow at AEI. Before joining AEI, he was president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago from 1991 to 2004. Mr. Pollock focuses on financial policy issues, including financial cycles, government-sponsored enterprises, housing finance, banking, central banking, uncertainty and risk, retirement finance, corporate governance, and political responses to financial crises. He is the author of “Boom and Bust: Financial Cycles and Human Prosperity” (AEI Press, 2010), as well as numerous articles and congressional testimonies. Mr. Pollock is a director of CME Group, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, and the Great Books Foundation, where he was chairman of the board from 2006 to 2014, and he is a former president of the International Union for Housing Finance.

Antonio Weiss is a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. Previously, he served as counselor to the secretary at the US Department of the Treasury, where he worked on domestic and international issues related to financial markets, regulatory reform, job creation, consumer finance, and broad-based economic growth. He served as the point person on the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, working closely with Congress to pass legislation to allow an orderly restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt. In recognition of his achievements at the Treasury, he was presented the Alexander Hamilton Award, the department’s highest honor. Before joining the Treasury, he served in various leadership roles at Lazard in New York and Europe, including as global head of investment banking. He has advised many of the world’s leading corporations on their most significant strategic decisions. From 2000 to 2009, he was based in Paris, where he was vice chairman of European investment banking following the introduction of the single currency and during the financial crisis. Mr. Weiss is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has participated in numerous public policy forums on topics ranging from financial regulation to housing finance reform, and he coauthored a Center for American Progress report that recommended a more progressive tax regime and a balanced approach to long-term debt reduction. He has been a trustee of various nonprofit organizations and was publisher of The Paris Review. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale College and M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar and Loeb Fellow.

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