The fallout from Puerto Rico's financial crisis is reverberating in the states. NY1's Erin Clarke looked at how the commonwealth's money problems are threatening to affect Americans on the mainland.
Though thousands of miles away, Puerto Rico's debt crisis is closer to home than many Americans realize. The U.S. territory owes $72 billion and doesn't have the money to pay it back.
"Almost all of these bonds are in the hands of U.S. investors," said Ellie Ismailidou, bond market reporter for MarketWatch. "These are essentially mom and pop investors that buy a mutual fund, pension funds, also buy municipal bonds. So it's really retail investors, everyday investors, that hold this debt."
Financial experts said investors should become familiar with the bonds held by their mutual funds, pensions and 401Ks as the crisis unfolds.
So far, tough measures on the island, like slashing pensions and hiking taxes, have failed to work.
"We've got all of the burden being shifted on everyday residents of Puerto Rico that, to be fair, in many cases have lost their jobs," said Andrew Padilla, a journalist and documentary filmmaker. "Puerto Rico has shed 70,000 public-sector jobs since 2009."
Thousands have left the island seeking work, an exodus that's intensifying as the debt crisis grows worse.
"There are over 5.1 million Puerto Ricans residing in the United States, while there are less than 3.5 million residing on the island," said Edwin Melendez, director of the Hunter College Center for Puerto Rican Studies.
It's a cycle that has split up families and left fewer in Puerto Rico to work and lift its government out of debt.
Critics of Washington's hands-off approach said a bailout is needed.
"Since it became a colony in 1898, has served the interest of others," Padilla said. "It has been to serve the interest of the United States."
Financial experts said the solution isn't that simple.
"The U.S. government didn't help Detroit, and then we have other cities right now in bankruptcy," Ismailidou said. "If the central government did not step in to help these parts of the U.S., one can understand why it's hard for D.C. to step in and say we will give the money to Puerto Rico."
With little help on the way, analysts said the island will have to dig itself out of a deep hole. No one is sure how this will play out.