Q: What are your priorities as NFMA chair this year? A: One of my highest priorities for the NFMA will be to continue to advocate for improved disclosure from issuers. Since the NFMA was founded over 30 years ago it's really been an essential part of our core mission. I've been personally committed to this as well. In fact, one of my earliest involvements with our organization was helping to create our first housing disclosure recommended best practices, and that was back in 2000.
Such pressures, on a much bigger scale, led Congress to intervene on behalf of Puerto Rico last year, extending it power to have debt written off in court, an option that isn’t available to states or other territories. The passage of that legislation caused Virgin Islands bonds to tumble, with investors speculating that it may one day lobby U.S. lawmakers to be allowed to follow suit.
As Puerto Rico moves toward the largest debt restructuring in the history of the U.S. municipal market, investors worried about the precedent it sets would do well to look at the beleaguered Caribbean territory a half-hour’s flight away. The U.S. Virgin Islands, with some 103,000 residents, shares many of the same financial troubles that pushed its larger neighbor to the brink.