Briefly

Puerto Rico’s Struggles Remain

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Experts say Puerto Rico could face nearly two decades of further economic stagnation and a steep drop in population as a result of Hurricane Maria.

The stark estimates were presented Thursday to members of a federal control board overseeing finances of an island that is already in the 11th year of a recession.

Economist Heidie Calero estimated the Category 4 hurricane of Sept. 20 caused $115 billion in damage even without counting business losses.

Economist Juan Lara told board members that the local economy could contract anywhere between 8 percent and 15 percent next fiscal year, with overall revenues falling by 30 percent.

Another economist, Jose Villamil, said the island may not match its 2006 GDP until 2033.

Tesla Entering Trucking Business

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla Inc. wants to electrify big trucks.

After more than a decade of making cars and SUVs — and, more recently, solar panels — the company plans to unveil an electric semi tractor-trailer on Thursday night in Hawthorne, California.

The move fits with Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s stated goal for the company of accelerating the shift to sustainable transportation. But the semi also adds to the chaos at Tesla, which posted a record loss in the third quarter. It’s already way behind on production of the Model 3, a new lower-cost sedan.

Tesla hasn’t released any details about the semi, but some analysts expect it to have a range of around 200 miles.

Musk has said it should take about two years to bring the semi to market.

Mortgage Rates Hit New Highs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term mortgage rates rose this week to the highest level in months.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the rate on benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages hit 3.95 percent, up from 3.90 percent last week and highest since July. A year ago, it stood at 3.94 percent. The rate on 15-year home loans, popular among those who refinance mortgages, climbed to an average 3.31 percent, highest since April and up from 3.24 percent last week and 3.14 percent a year ago.

Long-term mortgage rates tend to track the yield on 10-year Treasury notes, which blipped higher this week.

The rate on five-year adjustable rate mortgages slipped to 3.21 percent this week from 3.22 percent last week. A year ago, it was 3.07 percent.

Opioid Firm Pleads Not Guilty

BOSTON (AP) — The founder of a pharmaceutical company accused of leading a conspiracy to bribe doctors to prescribe a powerful opioid pain medication for people who didn’t need it has pleaded not guilty.

Attorney Brian Kelly told reporters after John Kapoor’s arraignment in Boston’s federal courthouse on Thursday that the Insys Therapeutics Inc. founder is going to fight the case.

Kapoor and other Insys executives are accused of offering kickbacks to doctors to write large numbers of prescriptions for a fentanyl-based pain medication that’s meant for cancer patients.

Kapoor was arrested in Arizona last month and posted a $1 million bail.

Kelly urged the judge to get rid of the requirement that Kapoor wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. Prosecutors say he’s a flight risk.

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