Boom and Bust in Puerto Rico
How Politics Destroyed an Economic Miracle
266 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Hardcover | 9780268200978 | August 2021
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268200961 | August 2021
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268200992 | August 2021
Who is to blame for the economic and political crisis in Puerto Rico—the United States or Puerto Rico? This book provides a fascinating historical perspective on the problem and an unequivocal answer on who is to blame.
In this engaging and approachable book, journalist A. W. Maldonado charts the rise and fall of the Puerto Rican economy and explains how a litany of bad political and fiscal policy decisions in Washington and Puerto Rico destroyed an economic miracle.
Under Operation Bootstrap in the 1950s and '60s, the rapid transformation and industrialization of the Puerto Rican economy was considered a “wonder of human history,” a far cry from the economic “death spiral” the island’s governor described in 2015. Boom and Bust in Puerto Rico is the story of how the demise of an obscure tax policy that encouraged investment and economic growth led to escalating budget deficits and the government’s shocking default of its $70 billion debt. Maldonado also discusses the extent of the devastation from Hurricane Maria in 2017, the massive street protests during 2019, and the catastrophic earthquakes in January 2020.
After illuminating the century of misunderstanding between Puerto Rico and the United States—the root cause of the economic crisis and the island’s gridlocked debates about its political status—Maldonado concludes with projections about the future of the relationship. He argues that, in the end, the economic, fiscal, and political crises are the result of the breakdown and failure of Puerto Rican self-government. Boom and Bust in Puerto Rico is written for a wide audience, including students, economists, politicians, and general readers, all of whom will find it interesting and thought provoking.
A. W. Maldonado is a retired journalist who spent more than fifty years covering Puerto Rico’s politics and economy as reporter and columnist for the San Juan Star and editor of El Mundo and El Reportero. He is the author of several books, including Teodoro Moscoso and Puerto Rico’s Operation Bootstrap and Luis Muñoz Marín: Puerto Rico’s Democratic Revolution.
“Boom and Bust in Puerto Rico offers a fascinating account of how a misunderstanding of the meaning of self-determination is at the core of Puerto Rico’s economic and political history.” —Heidie Calero, president of H. Calero Consulting Group, Inc.
“Boom and Bust in Puerto Rico is an extremely important and comprehensive addition to the history, politics, and economics of the unique relationship between the governments of the United States and the island Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.” —Peter Holmes, former managing director of the Puerto Rico–USA Foundation
"A. W. Maldonado makes a keen and engaging assessment of the political and economic trials Puerto Rico has faced in its twelve-decade-long relationship with the United States, paying distinct attention to the ways in which the political culture within the commonwealth has affected the outcomes. This book should fare high in the agenda of those interested in the future of Puerto Rico, as well as those interested in the future of the many non-sovereign nations that today struggle with larger political entities to accommodate their national identity, fiscal autonomy, and development objectives through mutually convenient, democratic non-traditional frameworks." —Antonio Garcia Padilla, dean emeritus, University of Puerto Rico Law School