Growth Comission


The CNE Growth Commission for Puerto Rico is an initiative of the Center for a New Economy – Puerto Rico’s only independent think tank – as part of its efforts to chart a new road towards sustainable economic development for Puerto Rico.

The Commission’s mission to articulate policy strategies that foster long-term growth is now more relevant than ever.  Hurricane Maria delivered a devastating blow to Puerto Rico and has created new economic, social and institutional challenges.

Puerto Rico’s ineffective and slow response to the destruction created by Hurricane Maria underscores the need to improve the island’s resilience capacity.  Resilience can be broadly defined as the ability to quickly bounce back from devastating events. In the case of Puerto Rico, getting back to the status quo ante Maria is not enough.  The island must seek to leapfrog into a renewed development platform, generating a profound retooling of its productive and institutional infrastructure and creating new economic opportunities and capabilities.

The task of effectively rebuilding the battered island will take years to be accomplished.  In the immediate term, the CNE Growth Commission will refocus its agenda towards rethinking growth prospects in an island affected by a severe economic shock. Thus, it will begin by assessing shortfalls – in terms of available capital, business opportunities, and human capital stock, amongst others – and identifying new opportunities stemming from federal and private investment in relief and recovery efforts.

These exercises will provide the foundation to a process conducive to identifying promising sectors and stakeholders that can assist in jumpstarting economic development in the short and medium term. The overall goal is to craft a development agenda that not only augments Puerto Rico’s resiliency capacity, but that creates new socioeconomic prospects, building upon existing capabilities, developing new comparative advantages, and crafting a diversified portfolio of economic activities.

The CNE Growth Commission for Puerto Rico is composed of academics, policymakers, private sector representatives and civic leaders who possess expertise in diverse areas related to economic growth and development.  Its members represent a variety of perspectives and thought currents.  The Commission organizes its work via Working Groups.


Gustavo J. Bobonis is an expert in development economics. His recent research has focused on government accountability and the effects of social policies on human and economic development. Bobonis’ areas of interest include development economics, political economy, and labor economics. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the John Charles Polanyi Prize for Economics in 2009, the Journal of Development Economics Award in 2003, and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) research grant for the years 2007-2009. He is also Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto, where he holds a Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Development. He has published in distinguished academic journals including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Review of Economics and Statistics. Professor Bobonis received his BA in Economics from the University of Puerto Rico, and his PhD in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Joseph E. Stiglitz is an American economist and professor at Columbia University. He is also the co-chair of the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Chief Economist of the Roosevelt Institute. A recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979), he is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and a former member and chairman of the (US President’s) Council of Economic Advisers. In 2000, Stiglitz founded the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, a think tank on international development based at Columbia University. He has been a member of the Columbia faculty since 2001 and received that university’s highest academic rank (University Professor) in 2003. Based on academic citations, Stiglitz is the 4th most influential economist in the world today; in 2011 he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Known for his pioneering work on asymmetric information, Stiglitz’s work focuses on income distribution, asset risk management, corporate governance, and international trade. He is the author of numerous books and several bestsellers.

Dr. Olshansky’s teaching and research cover land use and environmental planning, with an emphasis on planning for natural hazards. He has published extensively on post-disaster recovery planning, planning and policy for earthquake risks, and policy for unstable ground. He is especially interested in understanding how human settlements can better survive in the face of periodic natural disturbances, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and sea level rise. His current research focuses on recovery following large disasters, such as the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China (for which he has a National Science Foundation grant, along with colleagues at several other universities), 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. He and colleagues have published on the recovery following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, 1995 Kobe, Japan Earthquake, 2004 Chuetsu, Japan Earthquake, and 2010 Haiti earthquake. He is the co-author of Clear as Mud: Planning for the Rebuilding of New Orleans (APA Press, 2010), which critically documents the post-Katrina planning process in New Orleans.

Popular, Inc. is a publicly traded financial holding company and Banco Popular, a wholly owned subsidiary, is Puerto Rico’s leading depository institution. Mr. Carrión joined Banco Popular in 1976, after obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree from Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and receiving a Master’s Degree in Information Services from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Mr. Carrion’s vision brought the first network of ATMs to Puerto Rico and many other Latin American countries; he also spearheaded the successful migration from paper to electronic transactions. For almost three decades Mr. Carrión has juggled his time between corporate America and philanthropy. He has been a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1990. He chaired the Finance Commission and the Audit Committee and was a member of the Coordination Commission for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, Rio 2016. At present, he is a member of the IOC’s Marketing, TV Rights and New Media Commission. Mr. Carrión led the negotiation team for the U.S. broadcast of the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games (generating $2 billion in revenue) and was elected to the IOC Executive Board from 2004 until 2012. He currently serves as a member of the International Basketball Federation’s (FIBA) Central Board. He served as class A director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2008 through 2015 and seats on the Board of Directors of Verizon Communications since 1995. He is the founder and trustee of the Banco Popular Foundation.

Francisco Rivera-Batiz has held appointments at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University in New Brunswick and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. At Columbia University, he has been director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education, director of the Program in Economic Policy Management, and director of the Latino Studies Program. Dr. Rivera-Batiz has written nine books and over sixty articles on topics relating to economics, education, and international affairs. In the area of education, his publications include research on the impact of schooling and literacy skills on labor market outcomes, the transition from school to work, the effects of schooling on economic growth, and the effectiveness of educational reform efforts in developing countries. Professor Rivera-Batiz has worked on projects with the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations, and the Harvard Institute for International Development. He has also provided technical or educational services to governmental and non-governmental institutions in the United States, Argentina, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mongolia, Paraguay, and Turkey. Rivera-Batiz holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Steven J. Davis is Professor of International Business and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He studies business dynamics, labor markets, economic fluctuations, and public policy. He is past Editor of the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, elected Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, Senior Academic Fellow with the Asian Bureau of Finance and Economics Research, Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, advisor to the US Congressional Budget Office, and consultant to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Davis is known for his influential work using longitudinal data on firms and establishments to explore job creation and destruction dynamics and their relationship to economic performance. He is a co-creator of the Economic Policy Uncertainty Indices and the DHI Hiring Indicators. He co-organizes the Asian Monetary Policy Forum, held annually in Singapore. In 2013, he received the Addington Prize in Measurement for his research on “Measuring Economic Policy Uncertainty.” Davis earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Portland State University in Oregon in 1980, and Master’s and PhD degrees, both in economics, from Brown University.

Francisco A. Catalá Oliveras worked as Professor of Economics at the University of Puerto Rico, where he taught courses both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He has authored numerous books on labor democracy, the cooperative movement, globalization, and economic history, such as Democracia Obrera: ¿Autogestión o Privatización? (Ediciones Huracán, 1996), and Promesa Rota: una mirada institucionalista a partir de Tugwell (Ediciones Callejón, 2013). In his professional and academic work, Catalá has forged a space between trade unionism, cooperativism and politics. He holds a BA and an MA in Economics from the University of Puerto Rico and a PhD in Economics from Georgetown University.

Barry Bosworth has been a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution since 1979 and served as a research associate from 1971-77. He was Director of the President’s Council on Wage and Price Stability in 1977-79; Visiting Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, 1974-75; and Assistant Professor, Harvard University, 1969-71. His research has involved work on the determinants of economic growth in developing countries, saving, capital formation, productivity growth and the economic condition of the aged. Some of his recent publications focus on inequality in old age; transpacific trade and economic growth; income inequality in Korea; the decline in saving in the US; and the economy of Puerto Rico. He received his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1969.

Yolanda Cordero Nieves is also co-founder of the Center of Multidisciplinary Studies on Government and Public Affairs (CEMGAP, in Spanish) at the University of Puerto Rico, an initiative aimed at promoting research on complex government problems from a multi-disciplinary perspective. From the CEMGAP, she has directed research and consulting projects for the Puerto Rico Office of Management and Budget (PROMB); the Puerto Rico Department of Treasury; and the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, among others. Before joining the university, Professor Cordero served as Director of the Management Area at the PROMB; and as Director of Human Resources for the Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico and for the Municipal Government of San Juan. Cordero Nieves is member of the Latin American Center of Administration for Development (CLAD) in Caracas; Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) in Washington, DC; American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) in Washington, DC; and Research Group in Government, Administration and Public Policy (GIGAPP) in Spain. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico; an MA in Sociology from the University of Chicago; and a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico.

José Antonio Ocampo is also Chair of the Committee for Development Policy of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and of Colombia’s Rural Development Commission. He has occupied numerous positions at the United Nations and his native Colombia, including UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and Minister of Finance, Minister of Agriculture and Director of the National Planning Office of Colombia. In 2012 he was one of the two candidates from developing countries for President of the World Bank. He has received numerous academic distinctions, including the 2012 Jaume Vicens Vives award of the Spanish Association of Economic History for the best book on Spanish or Latin American economic history, the 2008 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought and the 1988 Alejandro Angel Escobar National Science Award of Colombia. He has published extensively on macroeconomic theory and policy, international financial issues, economic and social development, international trade, and Colombian and Latin American economic history. He holds a BA in Economics and Sociology from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in Economics from Yale University.

Richard M. Locke is an internationally respected scholar and authority on international labor rights, comparative political economy, employment relations, and corporate responsibility. Working with leading firms like Nike, Coca Cola, Apple, and HP, Locke and his students have demonstrated how corporate profitability and sustainable business practices can be reconciled. For his ongoing research on fair and safe working conditions in global supply chains, Locke was named the 2005 Faculty Pioneer in Academic Leadership by The Aspen Institute. Prior to his arrival at Brown, Locke served for 25 years on the faculty at MIT, holding the Alvin J. Siteman Chair in Entrepreneurship and later the Class of 1922 Chair in Political Science and Management. Locke pioneered the Global Entrepreneurship Laboratory at MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 2000. He also served as chair of the MIT Political Science Department and deputy dean in the Sloan School of Management. He has held visiting faculty positions in Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Brazil and is the author of five books. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, chairs the Apple Academic Advisory Board and is a member of the ILO-IFC Better Work Program Advisory Committee. Locke earned an BA from Wesleyan University, an MA from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in Political Science, with a specialty in Political Economy, from MIT.

Alejandro M. Ballester is President of Ballester Hermanos, Inc., a privately owned business devoted to the importation and distribution of grocery products in Puerto Rico. He has a comprehensive understanding of Puerto Rico’s consumer products and distribution industries, and is familiar with the challenges faced by family-owned businesses. Ballester has proven to be a successful entrepreneur establishing the food service division of Ballester Hermanos, which today accounts for 36% of the firm’s revenues. He currently is a member of the Board of Directors of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico. He also served in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Small Business and Agriculture Advisory Committee, and as director of the Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico. Ballester holds a Masters of Management from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

William Lockwood-Benet is a practicing Puerto Rican development economist, investment banker and co-founder of leading Puerto Rico private sector development and civil society ecosystem institutions. He has devoted a third of his career to public service, including as President, Fiscal Agent and Vice President of the Puerto Rico Government Development Bank (GDB), where he served five different political administrations. Since 2006 he attends the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings as Civil Society representative. His current priorities are governance, institution building, IT and management execution. He is the founder and CEO of Lockwood Financial Advisors Corp. (LFA), a firm serving global consultancies, private infrastructure investors including energy and highways, global financial institutions, institutional investors and new corporate ventures since 1993. In 2013 Lockwood-Benet was appointed by the US National Science Foundation to serve as member of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program national advisory committee. He is a co-founder and investor in Protein Dynamic Solutions LLC, a biotechnology analytical venture and first spinoff from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) based on intellectual property developed by its UPR inventor. Lockwood-Benet is a graduate of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, and of Brown University’s inaugural Development Studies program. He has conducted all of his biomolecular biology, biopharma and intangibles taxation training at MIT’s POPI (BioMan) programs, Whitehead and Broad Institutes and the MIT Sloan and Kellogg Business Schools.

Andrew Schrank studies the organization, regulation, and performance of industry, especially in Latin America. He is particularly interested in the design and construction of “high road” institutions that reconcile the goals of growth, equity, and sustainability at the firm and regional levels. He previously held positions in political science and sociology at the University of New Mexico, Yale University, and the University of Miami. He has received grants and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Social Science Research Council; served as a consulting editor or board member at the American Journal of Sociology, Politics and Society, Latin American Politics and Society, Sociology of Development, and Studies in Comparative International Development; collaborated with Somos un Pueblo Unido in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and consulted for the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, United States Department of Labor, and various United Nations agencies. He is also a founding member of REPAL, the Red de Economía Política de América Latina. Schrank received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 2000.

Elizabeth Fussell joined Brown University and the PSTC in the fall of 2014. She is a sociologist and demographer whose research focuses on international and internal migration, and environmental drivers of migration. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Springer journal Population & Environment. Fussell’s current research focuses on the long-term effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the exposed residents of the city, regardless of where they are currently living. She has investigated the arrival and reception of the Latino immigrants who formed the rapid response construction labor force, the impact of displacement on the health of vulnerable low-income mothers, and differentials in return migration of displaced New Orleans residents. Her new research focuses on the generalizable aspects of hurricane impacts on population change.
Fussell’s research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation.

Harold J. Toro is a teaching professor at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.His research and teaching focus on social inequality and stratification, labor markets, and economic development. Within these broad areas, his research questions are motivated by an interest in disentangling individual attributes of labor force participants from the institutional processes that impinge on their labor force behavior. Geographically, his work to date has focused on examining these processes in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Toro earned a PhD from the University of California Berkeley, and spent one year as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Between 2008 and 2012 he worked as director of research for Center for the New Economy (CNE). He began his academic career in 2013 as assistant professor of sociology in 2013 at the University of New Mexico, where he also was a senior fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy.

Teresita Fuentes was former Assistant Secretary for Internal Revenue of the Puerto Rico Treasury Department until December 31, 1996. She participated actively in the 1994 Tax Reform, which culminated in the Puerto Rico Internal Revenue Code. She was also responsible for the Administrative Reform of the Internal Revenue Area, reorganizing the structure into a functional one. The Administrative Reform was part of a three-phase project to reorganize the Puerto Rico Treasury Department’s Internal Revenue Area, consisting of a new tax code, an integrated tax administration structure and the software necessary to implement the changes. Fuentes has lectured before various entities such as the Tax Executives Institute, The Center for National Policy in Washington, Brandeis University, Puerto Rico Manufacturer’s Association, Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce and the State Society of Certified Public Accountants. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Manufacturer’s Association and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Ana G. Méndez University System. She participated in the Special Committee to study the tax on consumption of the State Society of CPA’s, as well as in the Advisory Council for Economic and Fiscal Restructure created by former Governor of Puerto Rico Luis G. Fortuño.



By a Working Group of the Commission
Memo to the Congressional Task Force

By CNE and IPD
Devising a Growth Strategy for Puerto Rico