Justin Velez-Hagan

UMBC economic policy researcher examines the impact of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis

Justin Vélez-Hagan, a Ph.D. student in UMBC’s School of Public Policy and executive director of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, has been in the news recently after Puerto Rico defaulted on more bond payments, falling deeper into debt. Vélez-Hagan was recently a guest on Al Jazeera America, HuffPost Live, and the BBC and discussed the impact of the financial crisis and what needs to be done for the commonwealth to bounce back financially.

On HuffPost Live, Vélez-Hagan joined other economic analysts and researchers and examined how the financial crisis is affecting Puerto Rican citizens (watch the full segment).

“The average Puerto Rican is paying as much, if not more, in taxes, if they’re paying taxes. Keep in mind that a lot of the population is not paying taxes given the poverty rates. But those who are paying taxes are paying more and getting less in return. The economy continues to shrink, employment opportunities are shrinking, and it’s basically affecting everyone from the bottom to the top in Puerto Rico dramatically,” Vélez-Hagan said during the segment.

He also discussed how the increase in sales taxes and costs for electricity and water, coupled with the decrease in population and transportation investments, is having a sizable impact on Puerto Rico’s economy.

Vélez-Hagan appears frequently in the media to discuss economic policy in Puerto Rico. He’s been featured in Forbes, Fox News, Politico, The Hill, Politic365, NBC, The Huffington PostFox Business Network, Voice of America, BBC News, Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera English, HuffPost LiveNPR Radio, SiriusXM, and Fusion.

He is the author of the new book The Common Sense behind Basic Economics (Lexington, 2015). Read more about his work.