According to Bloomberg, trading in Puerto Rico securities has gone up even after the U.S. territory filed for Title III bankruptcy protection last month. Over the last 50 days, $267.4 million of Commonwealth debt was the daily average that traded, which is more than the $195.9 million daily average from the last 200 days. Analyzing the increase, Matt Fabian of Municipal Market Analytics speculated to Bloomberg that investors who purchased the bonds might have assumed that the federally appointed financial control board tasked with fixing the island’s financial problems would succeed.
Puerto Rico owes more than $70 billion of bond debt and, additionally, has over $40 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. After talks with creditors went nowhere, Puerto Rico sought bankruptcy protection. Now, creditors will have to go to court to try to get back their losses.
However, those legal cases are being led by institutional investors, such as hedge funds and mutual funds. Nevertheless, retail investors and others continue to try to get back their investment losses starting from when Puerto Rico bonds and closed-end bond funds began plummeting almost four years ago. What seemed like a good investment—tax-exempt and allegedly low-risk—ended up proving catastrophic for many who were told, falsely, that investments were safe and appropriate for their portfolios. Hundreds were encouraged by brokers to borrow so they could invest even more money in these securities.