Puerto Rico’s biggest bank came out of Hurricane Maria stronger

PUERTO RICO was never the most financially stable of places. After years of trouble its government defaulted in 2016. Then, in 2017, Hurricane Maria roared in. The island took close to a year to restore electricity fully, and financial restructuring continues. Manufacturers decamped during the power cuts; many did not return. Banco Popular, the biggest financial institution, which had already been buffeted by a wave of bad loans, was hit by another. Its failure would have been no surprise.

Prepare to be astonished, then: Popular is in pretty decent shape. Part of that is due to the island’s tentative recovery. Sales of cement and cars have been strong; tourism is starting to pick up. But even so, Popular’s performance is striking. The KBW index, a broad measure of American banking stocks, has fallen by 16% in the past year; Popular’s shares are up by a third. Over the past five years the KBW index rose by 46%; Popular’s shares...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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