Puerto Rico plans sale of nearly $3 billion in GO bonds

Signs of economic depression are visible in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico on Tuesday, November 19, 2013.
Niki Kahn | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Puerto Rico plans to issue about $2.86 billion in general obligation bonds in March, the Government Development Bank said on Tuesday, a deal that could have important implications for the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market.

Cramer: Puerto Rico is for trade only
Cramer: Puerto Rico is for trade only

Jose Pagan, the interim president of the GDB, said the bond sale—the first debt sale by the cash-strapped U.S. territory since August—will include about $390 million in new money.

(Watch: Cramer: Puerto Rico is for trade only)

All three Wall Street ratings agencies cut Puerto Rico's credit rating to junk status this month partly on fears that it would struggle to finance its deficit by issuing new bonds.

The island has outstanding debt of about $70 billion—nearly four times that of bankrupt Detroit—and its economy has been shrinking almost continuously since 2006.

The commonwealth's bonds make up about 2 percent of the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market and are popular with investors because they are exempt from federal, state and local taxes.