Puerto Rico was once a Spanish colony, then a US sort-of-a-colony, then a commonwealth with citizenship. I know US agribusiness invested heavily in setting up/expanding a sugar cane industry on the island, and that various US companies do manufacturing there.

My question is: What fraction of Puerto Rican economy is owned by mainland-US individuals and corporations/companies?


  • Let's stick to direct ownership, so forget about whether the mainland company with a production facility in Puerto Rico is actually owned by lots of stockholders, some of which might be Puerto Rican. While it's methodologically valid to look into that, it makes the question so much harder to answer. So use direct ownership as a proxy / first-order estimate.
  • You can choose the measure you like, i.e. contribution to GDP, estimated value of holdings, number of workers (employed/self-employed)...
  • If you can make a guesstimate and justify your assumptions, that's better than no answer.
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    That's REALLY REALLY hard (and sometimes flat out impossible) to answer, in most cases. Plenty of assets are owned by pooled asset management vehicles (assorted kinds of funds, trusts etc...). Some of which are private so you don't even know ownership (could be Saudi or Texas investors); and some simply broad based (Microsoft's or Intel's pension fund is collectively "owned" by MSFT/INTL employees from all over the world - which money is then invested in ETFs/mutual funds/infrastructure funds/alternative funds etc...). – user4012 Jul 13 '17 at 13:17
  • @user4012: And to be fair, we'd also have to ask how much of the mainland US economy is held by Puerto Ricans, and would face the same sort of difficulties in getting a meaningful answer. It's a global economy out there, folks :-) – jamesqf Jul 13 '17 at 18:52
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    Say for an example Ford sets up an auto plant in Puerto Rico. Simplistically, 100% of that is owned by a mainland company. But Ford has an employee stock ownership plan, so some of its Puerto Rican employees now own part of Ford. And other Puerto Ricans think Ford stock, or mutual funds that own Ford stock, are a good investment for their 401k equivalents... – jamesqf Jul 13 '17 at 18:58
  • @jamesqf: I'm assuming it's a tiny fraction. About the employee stock ownership plan - again, the total Ford stock they own is very small. But if you want to deduct, say, 5% of the fraction to account for such secondary effects than fine. – einpoklum Jul 13 '17 at 19:55
  • @einpoklum: Exact numbers aren't my point. I'm trying to explain why it's exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to come up with a meaningful answer. – jamesqf Jul 14 '17 at 18:00

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