Investors may be too wrapped up in the slipping U.S. stock market to notice Puerto Rico’s troubles, but the Island’s problems are worsening. George Schultze, CEO of Schultze Asset Management, said the recently pulled $750 million sewer bond offering is evidence that 'the whole island is distressed.' 'One of the reasons they pulled the offering is because the investors didn’t like the idea that the island was at the same time asking the Supreme Court to approve a new bankruptcy law to restructure their debt. The problem is that with about $72 billion in debt, Puerto Rico really needs to restructure its debt.' Schultze said Detroit’s recent return to the bond market with last week’s $245 million offering is no reason to be sanguine about Puerto Rico’s future. He said Detroit’s journey through bankruptcy was by no means clean, even if the Motor City did eventually emerge to the other side. Schultze said the debt situation in Puerto Rico is about ten times larger in terms of municipal debt than Detroit when it went into trouble. 'The fact that they can’t benefit from chapter nine laws to restructure their debt just makes it much more complex so they will have to restructure debt on an issuer by issuer basis,' said Schultze. 'It’s pretty messy without a guideline and a template law to govern the whole thing.' Schultze said he is avoiding Puerto Rico bonds and instead is scooping up real estate assets on the island.
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