Fed Says College Students Have More Debt than Previous Generations

Washington DC - A study released from the Federal Reserve Board notes that 70 percent of college students are graduating with more than $37,000 in debt.

"Student loan debt has reached crisis levels," noted Eric LeCompte who heads the religious debt watchdog, Jubilee USA Network. "Current graduates are carrying higher debts than any previous generation."

The Federal Reserve Board study found that college student debt levels in 2017 were twice as high as student debt in 2004.

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Light Amidst Terror, Chag Sameach


From my family and all at Jubilee USA, I wish you and your family every blessing as you celebrate Hanukkah.

In this time of terror, darkness and tumult, I struggle to simply send you a "Happy Hanukkah." Tree of Life weighs heavy on me. As a leader of an interfaith organization, I struggle with growing hate crimes against my Jewish mothers and fathers.

I'm a Catholic who celebrates on Sunday a "CliffsNotes" Shabbat. But, I reflect on the wicked king and we remember the resistance of the People of God and the light that this time celebrates.

This gives me hope. I am grateful to resist the sick wickedness with you. I am grateful to walk into the light with you. 

Chag Sameach,


Eric LeCompte
Executive Director





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Eric LeCompte Featured by Profiles in Catholicism

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, recently spoke with Profiles in Catholicism about the history of his work at Jubilee USA and Jubilee USA's current campaigns. Read an excerpt below and follow this link to the full article.

An Interview with Eric LeCompte

Gordon: When were you appointed as Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, and what have been some of the most rewarding experiences that you have had to date?

Eric: I took over the reigns of Jubilee USA in April 2010. Working at Jubilee USA is a fulfillment of my Catholic vocation. The most rewarding experience of my career is working with, supporting and advising Catholic and other Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders. Working with the Bishops and Catholic religious orders of the United States, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Africa, and Latin America as well as major interfaith leaders in all of these regions can only be described as a gift.

Together this interfaith work has had unprecedented results. We’ve moved forward major policies to address the structural causes of poverty - debt, tax, and trade issues. In Africa, our efforts brought aid and debt relief monies to confront the Ebola epidemic that hit Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. We created a new process at the International Monetary Fund that strengthened healthcare and built new hospitals across the region.

In the Caribbean, we rallied religious leaders to deal with financial crisis and high poverty rates head on. In Puerto Rico, our work with religious leaders yielded new processes to address the 60 percent child poverty rate.

Globally, our work at Jubilee USA with the Holy See and interfaith religious partners won policies to address the causes of poverty worldwide. Together, we won new global policies to stop the exploitive behavior of vulnerable communities and decreased global corruption. It's been our efforts that called attention to the financial crisis and the reality that developing countries can't deal with poverty without dealing with high debt loads, budget transparency and tax evasion.

At the same time, the great reward of supporting and working with Catholic and other religious leaders in every corner of our world has also met challenges. While our successes together are myriad, our work must continue to address the root causes of poverty.

The same causes of poverty also spur inequality, human rights abuse, terrorism, war, and environmental degradation. I admire the teaching of our Holy Father who frames all of these issues in the economic issues that I am privileged to work on.

Gordon: You have been a tireless advocate for the reduction of poverty globally. Poverty may have a different connotation in different parts of the world. Please share your definition of poverty with our readers.

Eric: Global standards assume that anyone living on less than $1.90 a day lives in extreme poverty. But in the simplest of terms, poverty is not having enough healthy food to eat or receive basic education or health-care or have access to decent shelter. In every country of the world and on every continent, there are severe forms of need and extreme poverty.

As a Catholic and as someone who works on the causes of poverty, we can not separate these issues from the causes of inequality. The wealthiest 80 people in the world have more wealth the half of the world's population. 80 people on earth own more than the bottom 3.6 billion people in the world. The causes of poverty, that I work on, are debt, tax, trade, and transparency policies. It's why our work at Jubilee USA Network is so incredibly important.

Gordon: What are our moral obligations as Catholics to address poverty?

Eric: Our faith requires us as a moral obligation to not only be charitable but to address the primary causes of poverty. As Catholics, scripture and Catholic doctrine and the Holy Father call us to do everything in our power to end poverty.

The Catholic Church is at the forefront of articulating that we can not end poverty without addressing the structural causes of poverty.

Gordon: In your opinion and based on your testimony to the US Congress, how has the United States addressed the support of the people in need in Puerto Rico?

Eric: I think that the US Government has addressed the situation of Puerto Rico in a range of ways. I testified several times before Congress met with Puerto Rico’s former and current Governor and testified to the Congressionally installed oversight board of Puerto Rico. My message, rooted in Catholic teaching, is that it is imperative for decision makers to protect the vulnerable, limit austerity policies, protect the environment and reduce the nearly 60 percent child poverty rate on the island.

Our message is met with many responses. Both positive and negative.

Puerto Rico remains a colony of the United States and as such, decisions the US Government makes impact Puerto Rico. The Catholic Church, the Archbishop of San Juan and Caritas has been heroic in their advocacy for Puerto Rico’s people. Working with the Catholic and other interfaith religious groups on the island has brought a strong response from the Obama and Trump White Houses as well as Republican and Democratic leadership. The partnership of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has also been instrumental.

Because of our role with Catholic partners, we won a process to restructure the debt and reduce austerity. We’ve won rules for preferential treatment of poor communities. At this point, we’ve won more than 40 billion dollars in hurricane aid. We’ve ensured that policies are in place so Puerto Rico can rebuild to withstand the next storm.

With that noted, we still face enormous challenges. Creditor groups are successfully preventing positive debt restructuring and the island needs another 80 billion in aid. Our work as Catholics to lift and defend the people of Puerto Rico is so essential now and must continue.

Gordon: As a member of expert working groups to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, what is your experience can nations do to more effectively deal with life-threatening poverty wherever it occurs?

Eric: Life-threatening poverty is caused by structural policies. Debt, tax, and trade policies are why resources are poorly distributed and why poverty exists. It's why Catholic teaching is so important in terms of going beyond the important works of charity and working towards acts of justice. Our Savior reminds us of this when he declares the year of the Lord’s favor or the year of Jubilee, in his first public act in Luke’s gospel. He reiterates the call of the prophets: in order to live in harmony with one another, we must act for justice.

Countries must go beyond giving aid, we need to implement policies that will end poverty. The developing world loses a trillion dollars a year because of tax evasion and corruption. Countries around the world lose hundreds of billions annually because of a lack of public budget transparency and irresponsible borrowing. For every 1 dollar in aid developing countries receive, they lose 5 dollars in debt payments. At the United Nation, the IMF and in every country in the world, we can change these policies. Even minor shifts will release hundreds of millions of people from the bondage of poverty.

Gordon: You address the diverse challenges of religion, politics and economics often in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, McClatchy News Service, National Public Radio, Agence-France Presse, Market Place, CNN Money, the Financial Times and The Hill. What issues have resulted in the most feedback?

Eric: Sharing the Gospel with the media is critical for our efforts. Because we raise these issues in the mainstream media, there is a broader understanding of the actual structures that create global poverty.

Many of us don't realize how issues like debt, tax, and trade are the source of inequality and poverty. These issues impact our lives almost as much as the very oxygen we breathe. The media, just like most of us, is yearning to understand and communicate these issues. It's how why we spend so much time engaging with them.

Gordon: Jesus asked us to live our neighbor as ourselves Considering we are members of a global community and a global religion, who is our neighbor?

Eric: In our global community, we are all neighbors. In this global economy, what happens to one of us impacts all of us. We are called to love our neighbors, no matter who they are or where they call home.

Gordon: Thank you for this exceptional interview.

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Development Group Head Issues Statement on G-20 Communiqué

Washington DC - The G-20 releases their communiqué or "Leader's Declaration" at the close of their annual meetings held this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development organization, releases the following statement on the G-20 Leader's Declaration:

"From a development perspective we agree with the G-20 that the current system of global trade is flawed. Trade dispute processes too often bypass a country's sovereign laws on labor and the environment. Reforms of the World Trade Organization and trade agreements are needed to protect vulnerable communities.

"We welcome the commitment for basic creditor transparency and for the IMF and World Bank to record public and private loans and debts.

"The G-20's commitment to tackle tax avoidance, tax evasion and corruption are important. We want to see the implementation of global tax and transparency laws as soon as possible. Currently the developing world loses nearly a trillion dollars annually due to tax evasion and corruption.

"The G-20 affirmation of the need to make voting more equal at the International Monetary Fund is critical.

"While the G-20 raises concerns about financial crisis, the G-20 as a whole is failing to push forward an international bankruptcy process. Without this process in place, we are failing to do all we can to prevent the next global financial crisis."

Read the full G-20 Leader's Declaration here: http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/2018/buenos_aires_leaders_declaration.pdf

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G20 Discusses Preventing Financial Crisis and Small Island Economies

Washington DC - President Trump arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday for the annual G20 meetings. While trade, climate and tensions with Russia dominated press coverage ahead of the meetings, financial crisis concerns are taking center stage during the two-day meetings. The International Monetary Fund released a series of reports in October warning new financial crisis could be on the horizon.

"The concerns are whether or not we've done enough to prevent the next financial crisis," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who monitors the G20 and serves on UN finance expert groups. "There is broad agreement that the debts of many countries are out of control and we've not done enough to stop risky market behavior."

Recent analysis from the IMF and the UN Conference on Trade and Development suggest that a growing number of developing countries are wrestling with debt crisis. Almost 20 African economies are mired in unsustainable debts, according to the World Bank and IMF. On Monday, the IMF hosted Caribbean Prime Ministers and Finance Ministers to discuss debt concerns after the devastating 2017 hurricane season.

"During this year's G20, world leaders are discussing how small islands in particular are struggling with high debt loads in the face of natural disasters," said LeCompte who participated in Monday's IMF Caribbean meeting. "We are pushing the G20 to support debt relief when poor small islands are hit by hurricanes or other natural disasters."

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What your gift does, exactly. Why your gift is doubled.

On "Giving Tuesday," please join me and make a gift that supports our current campaigns.

Any gift to Jubilee USA is tax-deductible and is doubled now. Whether your gift is $5, $50 or $500 it will be doubled and will support our campaigns that will see action before year-end. 

Your donation supports effective and strategic campaigns that address the root causes of poverty.

Your gift right now means:

  • We will win debt and austerity relief for Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands wrestling with financial crisis. Our disaster-triggered debt relief processes will also gain momentum with your support
  • In the new NAFTA, we will gain more ground on stopping vulture funds, settling trade disputes in favor of vulnerable communities and ensuring people can access life-saving medicines
  • We will win more hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
  • We will prevent corruption from oil and extractive industries by implementing new reporting rules that will stop bribery, protect debt relief and curb tax evasion in the developing world
  • At the G20 and the IMF, we can move forward the implementation of new global responsible lending and borrowing rules
  • We'll continue to protect transparency rules in Dodd-Frank and protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from attacks
  • We can raise the alarm and push solutions on the growing debt crises in Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America

Your support achieves success. Your contribution wins measurable results.

Please make your tax-deductible gift today. We are a small organization and your gift is critically needed now for us to be able to continue our work. 

Congressional Quarterly cites our Jubilee USA efforts as the last bipartisan efforts in Washington DC. Before the end of the year, we'll need you to join us as we take action. Several of the campaigns we are working on will see decisions in the coming weeks.

So grateful for your partnership,


Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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Debt and Tax Policies Needed to Prevent Crisis Says Finance Watchdog Group

Washington DC - Financial institutions, experts and economists fear a new wave of financial crises hitting countries from Ghana to Italy. The IMF and World Bank warn that nearly 20 African economies are wrestling with debt crises and on Wednesday the European Union chastised Italy on its debt-laden budget.

"Growing debt crises and the inability of countries to meet the social needs of their people is very concerning," stated Eric LeCompte who serves on United Nation finance expert groups and is the Executive Director of Jubilee USA. Jubilee USA monitors the debts and budgets of governments across the world. "Governments aren't raising enough revenue, we are failing to prevent corruption and the exports and currencies of many countries are losing value."

In October the IMF released a series of reports raising concerns that policies are not in place to prevent future global financial crisis. Last year's hurricane season devastated Caribbean islands from Puerto Rico to Dominica that were not prepared because of debt crises.

"If we follow the data, the solutions are conclusive," said LeCompte. "We need stronger policies on responsible lending and borrowing. We need a functioning permanent bankruptcy process for countries to work out their debts. We must implement some basic rules that can curb the trillion dollar annual loss to developing countries from tax evasion and corruption."

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We stand with Rumi. We are Thankful.


Giving thanks for abundance 

is sweeter than the abundance itself: 
Should one who is absorbed with the 
Generous One 
be distracted by the gift? 
Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence; 
abundance is but the husk, 
for thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives. 

- Rumi


If there ever was a holiday that could be called a holiday of Jubilee, it is Thanksgiving. 

Hoarding abundance, excess in itself is never the celebration of Jubilee. Like the great Muslim Sufi prophet, Rumi, proclaims, that is the husk.

In the midst of darkness, in chaos, in tumult - the gift of Thanksgiving is two-fold. 

The gift is knowing gratitude. The gift is acknowledging the reality that our loving God has given us a rich and abundant world and we are closest to the Creator when we share that abundance among all of us.

On Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for you.

Wishing you every blessing,

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

Twitter: @Eric_LeCompte

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Eric LeCompte Speaks to National Catholic Reporter on The Effects of Hurricanes on Small Islands

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, recently spoke with the National Catholic Reporter about the financial effects of hurricanes on islands in the Caribbean. Read an excerpt below and follow this link to the full article.

Post-disaster tourism, volunteering boost local island economies

The impact extended to a number of islands throughout the Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, Barbuda and St. Martin. All were "greatly affected," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, an interfaith alliance of non-profit organizations seeking to address structural and financial causes of poverty and inequality. The financial toll was even worse for islands whose economies are largely reliant on tourism.

"It's a double whammy when natural disasters strike in these areas because not only is an island or a country struggling to recover, they're also wrestling with losing their main form of income," LeCompte said.

Making matters worse is that a number of islands hit by hurricanes were countries and territories already facing financial and debt crises, LeCompte said. That left many ill-prepared to fortify infrastructure for a major storm, much less deal with the aftermath.

 "These islands were already in a very tough spot before the hurricanes came. And now all of those problems have been compounded," he said.

While most of the major debris brought by the hurricanes has been cleared and power was fully restored as of July, power outages continue in some parts, LeCompte said, and electrical access is more intermittent the farther you travel into the island's more rural regions. Those areas also face clean water issues and have older buildings and structures still dotted with the government-provided blue tarps.

While images of a recovering region can leave some skittish of traveling there, LeCompte said it's important to remember that the storms, earthquakes or other destructive events often don't usher in impoverished conditions, but rather exacerbate inequality that existed beforehand. Given that, he suggested travelers shouldn't hesitate to travel to these destinations, "and even choose these areas, because they are so in need of income."

In spite of challenging circumstances, whether brought by extreme weather or economic inequality, the Jubilee USA official said people he and others have met in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean continually invite them to come back and visit again — and to bring their families. To help overcome any feelings of guilt, he encourages tourists to experience the local culture outside of beach resorts, to better learn about local life, challenges and all.

"People are very hospitable and want to be able to teach and show people what's special about the place that they live," he said.

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Juzgará con justicia a los débiles,y sentenciará con
rectitud a los pobres de la tierra. Herirá al hombre
cruel con la vara de su boca, con el soplo de sus
labios matará al malvado..." Isaías, 11: 4

Desde el año 2015, hemos abogado para que la deuda de Puerto Rico sea reestructurada de modo tal que, incida en la disminución de medidas de austeridad, reduzca los niveles de pobreza entre los niños y las niñas de la isla y a su vez cree un crecimiento económico sustentable. En conjunto, con congregaciones religiosas hermanas de EE.UU., Puerto Rico y Jubilee USA, hemos reiteradamente hecho este llamado a nuestro gobierno, la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal de Puerto Rico y el gobierno de EE.UU.

Antes de los huracanes Irma y María, los planes fiscales proponían recortes en los pagos por concepto de la deuda, mayores a un 80% del monto adeudado.  

Estamos sumamente sorprendidos, por los acuerdos negociados entre la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal y algunos tenedores de bonos, que representan recortes menores a los anteriores. Antes de los huracanes, luchábamos con el hecho de que cerca de un 60% de nuestros niños y niñas vivían bajo niveles de pobreza. Luego de los huracanes, aún permanece una gran angustia a través de todo Puerto Rico. No obstante, vemos como ahora se llegan a acuerdos que son más onerososa los que originalmente se habían propuesto, antes de los huracanes.

Nosotros estamos firmemente opuestos al acuerdo negociado de la deuda de COFINA. Estamos preocupados por las acciones de nuestro gobierno, los tenedores de bonos y la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal. Nuestra gente, especialmente nuestros niños y niñas, quienes heredarán esta deuda de cara al futuro, merecen mejores acuerdos.

No menos importante, el acuerdo actual de COFINA, está fundado sobre proyecciones a corto plazo sumamente optimistas y sobre estimadas. Si se llegan a acuerdos similares con otros grupos de tenedores, bonos como los de las Obligaciones Generales, nuestros asesores de Jubilee USA nos indican que, nos veremos obligados a reestructurar, nuevamente, la deuda de Puerto Rico al cabo de pocos años.

 Las negociaciones actuales con los tenedores de bonos han fallado, al no tomar en consideración la pobreza infantil, reducir las medidas de austeridad y garantizar un crecimiento económico sustentable.   

El recién aprobado plan fiscal proyecta sobrantes en el presupuesto estimado. Para nosotros es moralmente inaceptable que, nuestro gobierno y la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal, mientras trabajan en un plan de ajuste fiscal, utilicen los sobrantes del presupuesto, para pagar la deuda de Puerto Rico. El plan de ajuste debe utilizar los sobrantes para la recuperación del huracán, reducir la tasa de pobreza infantil, limitar las medidas de austeridad y estimular el crecimiento económico del país a largo plazo.

 Si el gobierno de Puerto Rico y la Junta de Supervisión Fiscal no pueden llegar a un acuerdo sobre la deuda, que contenga recortes significativos en el monto adeudado, de modo que ubique a Puerto Rico en una ruta de crecimiento económico sustentable; les pedimos el favor de echarse a un lado y le abran paso al proceso de quiebras aprobado por el Congreso en el año 2016, para eliminar la carga inmoral que ejerce esta deuda sobre nuestro pueblo, en particular sobre el futuro de nuestros niños y niñas.


Mons. Roberto O. González Nieves OFM
Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico

Reverend Heriberto Martínez Rivera
General Secretary
The Bible Society of Puerto Rico
Ecumenical and Interfaith Coalition of Puerto Rico

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