May 3, 2017

Puerto Rico is requesting bankruptcy protection

Ricardo Arduengo / AP

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Wednesday that Puerto Rico is requesting bankruptcy protection in an effort to shield itself from falling deeper into financial turmoil. If approved, the move would be the largest-ever U.S. municipal debt restructuring, per the WSJ.

Why this matters: Puerto Rico — which has struggled through a 45% poverty rate and population decline — owes $73 billion to U.S. creditors. If Puerto Rico files for bankruptcy, it could cost creditors far more than they anticipated, likely leading to a lengthy legal fight with Wall Street.

Flashback: Detroit owed roughly $18 billion when it entered what was previously the largest municipal bankruptcy in 2013.

Why now? A legal stay protecting Puerto Rico from lawsuits expired Monday night. Hedge funds quickly filed lawsuits on Tuesday, naming Rosselló as a defendant. But because of the impending bankruptcy filing, the lawsuits will be frozen until a decision is reached.

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Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.