John Ruiz, a municipal debt analyst who recently delivered a presentation on Puerto Rico for Morgan Stanley, one of the biggest underwriters of the island’s debt, has died. He was 53.
He died suddenly on Feb. 4 at his home in Edgewater, New Jersey, according to his brother, James Ruiz. He had returned the day before from a business trip to Florida.
An executive director at New York-based Morgan Stanley since 2010, Ruiz developed expertise in the public finances of the areas he covered, which earlier in his career included California and Florida.
For Morgan Stanley, Ruiz co-wrote a presentation on Puerto Rico at the firm’s Global Distressed Debt Conference last October in New York City.
“The commonwealth’s economy entered recession in 2006 and is currently struggling to gain traction given its heavy dependence on the manufacturing and government sectors, which have been contracting for several years and face significant challenges moving forward,” according to the presentation by Ruiz and Ryan Brady, a vice president.
Morgan Stanley, in conjunction with Barclays Plc and RBC Capital Markets, is working with Puerto Rico on what may be a record sale of junk-rated municipal bonds to refinance debt and raise cash, Bloomberg News reported this week. Morgan Stanley was the biggest underwriter of the U.S. commonwealth’s debt last year as of November.
“On credits like Jefferson County and Puerto Rico, he dug deep and got to all of the important credit aspects of our issuer base very quickly,” J.R. McDermott, a Morgan Stanley managing director, said about Ruiz, according to the Bond Buyer.
In a Feb. 5 note to colleagues, Patrick Haskell, head of Morgan Stanley’s municipal-securities business, wrote:
“John had many notable successes over the past few years, but his biggest contribution has been to our culture. He was proud to be on the Morgan Stanley team and he always approached his work with a vitality that was inspiring.”
John Thomas Ruiz Jr. was born on June 4, 1960, in Passaic, New Jersey, and grew up in Westwood, New Jersey, the second of four children. His father, John Sr., taught Latin and English and served as president of the Westwood Regional Board of Education. His mother, the former Betty Lou Johnson, was a nurse.
He graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1982 with a degree in environmental planning and a desire to work in politics, his brother said. For a college paper he interviewed Edward Hynes, a commissioner on New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities, and ended up being hired by Hynes.
He was more than halfway to a law degree, studying nights at New Jersey’s Rutgers School of Law-Newark, when he decided to move to California and devote himself to finance, his brother said.
“Everything he did, he went completely deep into it,” James Ruiz said. “Once, he took my parents to Gettysburg,” the site of the Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania. “The battle lasted three days, so he got a guide to take them through for three days. It was that type of approach that characterized my brother. I went to the same place and we did the audio tour -- you’re done in five or six hours.”
Starting in 1994, Ruiz worked in California for Van Kampen Merritt Inc., Prudential Securities Inc. and Van Kampen Investments Inc. In 2007, according to Finra records, he moved to RBC Capital Markets Corp. in Florida, then worked as a consultant in Florida from 2008 to 2010, when he joined Morgan Stanley in New York.
In addition to his brother and mother, survivors include his wife, Lennah; his daughter, Daniella; and two sisters, Mary Ruiz and Ann Ruiz. His father died in 2012.