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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
The Future Role of U.S. Trade Policy: An Overview
The United States has become increasingly integrated with the rest of the world economy. This integration has offered benefits and presented challenges to U.S. business, agriculture, labor, and consumers. Those who can compete in the more integrated economy have enjoyed opportunities to broaden their success, while those who are challenged by increased foreign competition have been forced to adjust and some have exited the market or relocated overseas. Some observers contend that, in order to remain globally competitive, the United States must continue to support trade liberalization policies, while assisting those hurt by trade. Others have raised doubts over whether free trade policies benefit the U.S. economy. This report provides an overview and background on the debate over the future course of U.S. trade policy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10769/
The United States as a Net Debtor Nation: Overview of the International Investment Position
This report provides an overview of international investing patterns and impacts, and ends with considerations on this topic for Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc743538/
China's "Hot Money" Problems
China has experienced a sharp rise in the inflow of so-called "hot money," foreign capital entering the country supposedly seeking short-term profits, especially in 2008. Chinese estimates of the amount of "hot money" in China vary from $500 billion to $1.75 trillion. The influx of "hot money" is contributing to China's already existing problems with inflation. Efforts to reduce the inflationary effects of "hot money" may accelerate the inflow, while actions to reduce the inflow of "hot money" may threaten China's economic growth, as well as have negative consequences for the U.S. and global economy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10775/
Campaign Finance Law and the Constitutionality of the "Millionaire's Amendment": An Analysis of Davis v. Federal Election Commission
In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), also known as the McCain-Feingold law, establishing increased contribution limits for congressional candidates whose opponents significantly self-finance their campaigns. This provision is frequently referred to as the "Millionaire's Amendment." The Court found that the burden imposed on expenditures of personal funds is not justified by the compelling governmental interest of lessening corruption or the appearance of corruption and, therefore, held that the law is unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10774/
The Depreciating Dollar: Economic Effects and Policy Response
This report addresses the concern about the health of the U.S. economy regarding the depreciation of the dollar and examines the likely reasons for the dollar's fall, the effects the depreciating currency could have on the economy, and possible policy responses that could be considered to attempt to alter the dollar's path if needed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462316/
Community Development Block Grants: Legislative Proposals to Assist Communities Affected by Home Foreclosures
In response to the rising number of home mortgage foreclosures, several bills have been introduced during the 110th Congress that would provide additional federal assistance to state and local governments with high concentrations of foreclosed homes, subprime mortgage loans, and delinquent home mortgages. At least one of these proposals, H.R. 3221, as passed by the Senate, includes provisions that would use the framework of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to channel an additional $4 billion in assistance to state and local governments. This provision faces an uncertain future; objections to it have been raised by the Bush Administration and others, contending that the assistance will result in the rescue of lenders and speculators. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10773/
Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's Financial Problems: Frequently Asked Questions
Recent turmoil in the housing and financial markets have caused concern over the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are chartered by Congress as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and are widely believed to have an implicit guarantee from the federal government. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) -- the GSEs safety and soundness regulator -- has repeated assurances that Fannie and Freddie have adequate capital, but as highly leveraged financial intermediaries, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have limited resources against losses. This report analyzes various aspects of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in relation to the financial turmoil that began in September 2008. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10771/
Highway Bridges: Conditions and the Federal/State Role
This report examines the federal and state roles in the maintenance, inspection, reconstruction, and replacement of the nation's highway bridge infrastructure, as well as the emergency response and reconstruction role of the Department of Transportation (DOT). The report first describes what is known about the condition of the nation's bridges and whether the problem of structural deficiency is improving or worsening. It then briefly describes the programmatic and budgetary context, including federal efforts to reduce the number of deficient bridges, and examines highway bridge spending. The report discusses issues Congress is facing face in light of the I-35W bridge collapse and the emergence of questions about the appropriateness and effectiveness of related federal infrastructure policies, programs, and spending. Finally, the report describes a number of legislative initiatives that have been proposed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463213/
Primer on Energy Derivatives and Their Regulation
Prices of oil and other energy commodities are set in futures and derivatives markets, where producers, commercial users, and financial speculators buy and sell contracts whose value is linked to the price of the underlying commodity. Trading occurs on regulated futures exchanges and in a largely unregulated over-the-counter (OTC) market; both forms of trading are global in scope. This report presents basic information about these markets, the instruments traded, the regulatory framework, speculation, and current legislative proposals. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10772/
Foreign Direct Investment: Current Issues
This report presents an overview of current issues related to foreign direct investment in the economy and the development of U.S. policy toward inward and outward direct investment. This report also assesses the role of foreign direct investment in the economy and the costs and benefits of direct investment. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463436/
Foreign Investment in U.S. Securities
This report analyzes the extent of foreign portfolio investment in the U.S. economy and assesses the economic conditions that are attracting such investment and the impact such investments are having on the economy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700553/
The Future Role of U.S. Trade Policy: An Overview
The United States has become increasingly integrated with the rest of the world economy. This integration has offered benefits and presented challenges to U.S. business, agriculture, labor, and consumers. Those who can compete in the more integrated economy have enjoyed opportunities to broaden their success, while those who are challenged by increased foreign competition have been forced to adjust and some have exited the market or relocated overseas. Some observers contend that, in order to remain globally competitive, the United States must continue to support trade liberalization policies, while assisting those hurt by trade. Others have raised doubts over whether free trade policies benefit the U.S. economy. This report provides an overview and background on the debate over the future course of U.S. trade policy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10768/
Public-Private Partnerships in Highway and Transit Infrastructure Provision
This report begins with a brief discussion of the surface transportation system and its financing needs as background to the debate on public-private partnerships (PPPs). That is followed by sections describing the different types of PPPs, with details of a few prominent examples, and the development of federal legislation with respect to PPPs. The report then discusses the main issues of contention with the construction and longterm leasing of highways by the private sector, particularly as they relate to the funding, planning, and operation of the surface transportation system, before providing some policy options Congress may wish to consider. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463355/
The Enron Loophole
The Commodity Exchange Act exempts certain energy derivatives contracts from regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). These exemptions are popularly known as the "Enron loophole." Soaring energy prices have raised concerns about whether the CFTC has enough information about these unregulated markets to monitor energy trading in a comprehensive manner. A number of other bills in the 110th Congress would impose new reporting or regulatory requirements on the bilateral energy swaps market, which was not addressed by the Farm Bill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10766/
Foreign Ownership of U.S. Financial Assets: Implications of a Withdrawal
This report provides an overview of the role foreign investment plays in the U.S. economy. It also includes an assessment of possible actions a foreign investor or a group of foreign investors might choose to take to liquidate their investments in the United States. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc743529/
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several permanently authorized programs to help farmers recover financially from a natural disaster, including federal crop insurance, the noninsured assistance program (NAP), and emergency disaster loans. This report outlines the various agricultural disaster assistance appropriations included in the FY2007 Iraq war supplemental appropriations act; the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the 2008 farm bill; and the FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations Act. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10575/
GAO: Government Accountability Office and General Accounting Office
This report discusses the General Accounting Office (GAO), established in 1921 by the Budget and Accounting Act as an independent auditor of government agencies and activities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc743515/
Foreign Investment and National Security: Economic Considerations
This report assesses recent international developments as the leaders from a number of nations work to reach a consensus on an informal set of best practices regarding national restrictions on foreign investment for national security purposes. This report also provides one possible approach for assessing the costs and benefits involved in using national policies to direct, or to restrict, foreign direct investment for national security reasons. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463297/
Social Security Administration: Administrative Budget Issues
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Social Security program (Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, or OASDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and provides administrative support to Medicare and several other federal programs. Total SSA spending in FY2007 was about $624 billion, about 99% of which was mandatory spending on benefit payments. This report focuses on SSA’s spending for administrative expenses, which is discretionary and amounts to about 1% of SSA’s total spending. This funding is provided in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc812806/
China's Currency: Economic Issues and Options for U.S. Trade Policy
This paper reviews the various economic issues raised by China's present currency policy, including: the economic concerns raised by the United States over China's currency policy and China's concerns over changing that policy; how China's fixed exchange rate regime works and the various economic studies that have attempted to determine China's real, or market, exchange rate; trends and factors in the U.S.-China trade imbalance; economic consequences of China's currency policy for both China and the United States; China's massive accumulation of foreign exchange reserves and purchases of U.S. federal debt instruments; and policy options on how the United States might induce China to reform its present currency policy, including current legislation introduced in Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462913/
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation: Background and Legislative Issues
This report outlines challenges faced by Tajikistan since its five-year civil war ended in 1997. It discusses U.S. policy and assistance. Basic facts and biographical information are provided. This report may be updated. Related products include CRS Report RL33458, Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, updated regularly. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10539/
U.S. Taxation of Overseas Investment and Income: Background and Issues
This report analyzes how the current U.S. tax system applies to foreign investment undertaken by U.S. firms abroad, and how that application was changed by recent legislation. It also assesses the impact of the tax system and legislation, and concludes by discussing a variety of issues in international taxation that Congress may face in 2008 and beyond. It begins with a brief examination of the data on international investment. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462482/
Regulation of Energy Derivatives
After the collapse of Enron Corp. in late 2001, that company's activities came under intense scrutiny. Much of its business consisted of trading financial contracts whose value was derived from changes in energy prices. Enron's derivatives trading was largely "over-the-counter" (OTC) and unregulated: little information about transactions was available. This incident has sparked interest in reform of energy derivatives regulation. This report summarizes energy derivatives regulation and proposed legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10584/
China's Currency: A Summary of the Economic Issues
Many Members of Congress charge that China's policy of accumulating foreign reserves (especially U.S. dollars) to influence the value of its currency constitutes a form of currency manipulation intended to make its exports cheaper and imports into China more expensive than they would be under free market conditions. Although China made modest reforms to its currency policy in 2005, Members contend the forms have not gone far enough and have warned of potential legislative action. This report summarizes the main findings CRS Report RL32165, China's Currency: Economic Issues and Options for U.S. Trade Policy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10596/
Currency Manipulation: The IMF and WTO
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) approach the issue of "currency manipulation" differently. The IMF Articles of Agreement prohibit countries from manipulating their currency for the purpose of gaining unfair trade advantage, but the IMF cannot force a country to change its exchange rate policies. The WTO has rules against subsidies, but these are very narrow and specific and do not seem to encompass currency manipulation. Several options might be considered for addressing this matter in the future, if policymakers deem this a wise course of action. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10703/
Dollar Crisis: Prospect and Implications
This report describes the anatomy of dollar crisis, and possible reasons why a dollar crisis won't occur. The report discusses the macroeconomics effects of a dollar crisis, and the response of economic policy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700824/
China's Sovereign Wealth Fund
This report discusses China's ruling executive body, the State Council, which establishes the China Investment Corporation (CIC), a sovereign wealth fund, in September 2007 to invest $200 billion of China's then $1.4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves. Congress and financial analysts raised concerns about the CIC after its creation, partly because it was a comparatively large sovereign wealth fund, partly because it was government-owned, and partly because it reported directly to the State Council. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700637/
The Pattern of Interest Rates: Does it Signal an Impending Recession?
The cyclical behavior of the economy is of great interest to Congress, yet the onset of an economic downturn is seldom recognized promptly. Policymakers frequently search for reliable recession predictors. The behavior of interest rates may provide advanced warning of an impending downturn. The easing of monetary policy in evidence since September 2007 is consistent with efforts to forestall or minimize an economic downturn. Economic growth has been low since the last quarter of 2007, and some forecasters are now predicting a recession in 2008. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10658/
The Single European Payments Area (SEPA): Implementation Delays and Implications for the United States
This report presents a brief background on the efforts to create the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) by the European government and the banking industry. It assesses the current electronic payments systems from the wholesale (large value) level and the retail (small value) level of payments. The report then examines the attempts to develop the pan- European automated clearinghouse system (PEACH). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700904/
HUD Proposes Administrative Modifications to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
This report focuses on borrower disclosure, particularly with respect to making all pertinent information about loan terms and settlement costs transparent, so that consumers can make well-informed financial decisions when choosing mortgage products. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc770590/
The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment
This report covers the recent background of the Exon-Florio provision with special regards to issues faced in the 112th Congress. The Exon-Florio provision grants the President the authority to block proposed or pending foreign acquisitions of "persons engaged in interstate commerce in the United States" that threaten to impair the national security. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700544/
The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative
In Juen 2005, G8 finance ministers proposed the new Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The MDRI proposes to cancel debts of some of the world's poorest countries owed to the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and African Development Bank. This report discusses MDRI's implementation and raises some issues regarding debt relief's effectiveness as a form of foreign assistance for possible congressional consideration. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10682/
China's Holdings of U.S. Securities: Implications for the U.S. Economy
This report examines the importance to the U.S. economy of China's investment in U.S. securities, as well as U.S. concerns over the possibility that China might unload a large share of those holdings, including the likelihood that this would occur, and the potential implications such action could have for the U.S. economy. The report concludes that a large sell-off of Chinese Treasury securities holdings could negatively affect the U.S. economy, at least in the short-run. As a result, such a move could diminish U.S. demand for Chinese products and thus could lower China's economic growth as well. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc96796/
Social Security Administration: Administrative Budget Issues
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Social Security program (Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, or OASDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and provides administrative support to Medicare and several other federal programs. Total SSA spending in FY2007 was about $624 billion, about 99% of which was mandatory spending on benefit payments. This report focuses on SSA’s spending for administrative expenses, which is discretionary and amounts to about 1% of SSA’s total spending. This funding is provided in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc820858/
Trade in Services: The Doha Development Agenda Negotiations and U.S Goals
This report is designed to assist Congress to understand and monitor progress of the negotiations and the major issues that the negotiators are addressing. The report provides a brief background section on the significance of services to the U.S. economy. It then explains briefly the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the structure and agenda of the services negotiations in the DDA round, including U.S. objectives in the negotiations. The report concludes with a status report on the negotiations and an examination of potential results. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc821974/
Campaign Finance: Legislative Developments and Policy Issues in the 110th Congress
This report provides an overview of major legislative and policy developments related to campaign finance during the 110th Congress. The report discusses legislative and oversight hearings and floor action during the period. It also explores major policy issues that are relevant for Congress, but have largely occurred away from Capitol Hill. As of this writing, approximately 50 bills devoted primarily to campaign finance have been introduced in the 110th Congress, but none have become law. A new lobbying and ethics law, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) contains campaign finance provisions related to "bundled" campaign contributions and campaign travel. That measure is the only campaign finance related bill to become law during the 110th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462357/
K-12 Education: Special Forms of Flexibility in the Administration of Federal Aid Programs
This report begins with a review of the general nature of federal K-12 education program requirements, including their sources, purposes, and the concerns expressed by some grantees about them. This is followed by a description of the current special flexibility authorities under which many of these requirements may be waived or otherwise made inapplicable, along with an analysis of issues specific to individual authorities. This section is divided between authorities initially adopted before the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and authorities initiated in that legislation. The report concludes with an analysis of selected cross-cutting issues regarding these special flexibility authorities overall. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463196/
Student Loans, Student Aid, and FY2008 Budget Reconciliation
This report reviews and briefly describes the major proposals contained in both the House-passed and Senate-passed versions of H.R. 2669 to achieve savings in mandatory spending through changes to federal student loan programs and to enhance student aid benefits or make other changes to existing federal student aid programs. It also reviews and describes the major changes enacted under P.L. 110-84 that are projected to achieve savings in mandatory spending and those that establish new or enhanced student aid benefits or that otherwise amend pre-existing federal student aid programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc821530/
Student Loans, Student Aid, and FY2008 Budget Reconciliation
This report reviews and briefly describes the major proposals that would change the federal student loan programs to achieve savings in mandatory spending and the proposals that would enhance student aid benefits or result in changes to existing federal student aid programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822355/
Risk Management and Critical Infrastructure Protection: Assessing, Integrating, and Managing Threats, Vulnerabilities and Consequences
This report is meant to support congressional oversight by discussing, in more detail, what this task entails and issues that need to be addressed. In particular, the report defines terms (e.g., threat, vulnerability, and risk), discusses how they fit together in a systematic analysis, describes processes and techniques that have been used to assess them, and discusses how the results of that analysis can inform resource allocation and policy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc821699/
Social Security Administration: Administrative Budget Issues
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Social Security program (Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, or OASDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and provides administrative support to Medicare and several other federal programs. Total SSA spending in FY2006 was about $597 billion, 98% of which was mandatory spending on benefit payments. This report focuses on SSA’s spending for administrative expenses, which is discretionary and amounts to 2% of SSA’s total spending. This funding is provided in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc808292/
Student Loans, Student Aid, and FY2008 Budget Reconciliation
This report reviews and briefly describes the major changes proposed in H.R. 2669 to federal student loan and other federal student aid programs that would achieve savings in mandatory spending or that would result in changes to existing federal student aid programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc821560/
Hedge Funds: Should They Be Regulated?
In view of the growing impact of hedge funds on a variety of financial markets, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in October 2004 adopted a regulation that requires hedge funds to register as investment advisers, disclose basic information about their operations, and open their books for inspection. The regulation took effect in February 2006, but on June 23, 2006, a court challenge was upheld and the rule was vacated. S. 1402 and H.R. 2586 would reinstate the SEC's authority. H.R. 2683 would require defined benefit pension plans to disclose investments in hedge funds. In December 2006, the SEC proposed raising the "accredited investor" standard - to be permitted to invest in hedge funds, an investor would need $2.5 million in assets, instead of $1 million. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26047/
Social Security Administration: Administrative Budget Issues
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the Social Security program (Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, or OASDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and provides administrative support to Medicare and several other federal programs. Total SSA spending in FY2006 was about $597 billion, 98% of which was mandatory spending on benefit payments. This report focuses on SSA’s spending for administrative expenses, which is discretionary and amounts to 2% of SSA’s total spending. This funding is provided in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc806561/
Campus-Based Student Financial Aid Programs Under the Higher Education Act
This report begins by providing a brief description of each of the campus-based programs, including the terms under which financial aid is awarded to students and the procedures under which federal funds are allocated to institutions for that purpose. It then provides historical information on federal funds appropriated for each of the programs, an analysis of the number and types of students served, and selected program statistics. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc822637/
U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues
No Description digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10174/
Agricultural Disaster Assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several permanently authorized programs to help farmers recover financially from a natural disaster, including federal crop insurance, the non-insured assistance program and emergency disaster loans. In recent years, Congress frequently has made supplemental financial assistance available to farmers and ranchers on an ad-hoc basis, most notably in the form of direct crop disaster payments and emergency livestock assistance. Congress provided an estimated $3.1 billion of such assistance in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-7) for 2001 and 2002 crop and livestock losses. Some farm groups would like to see similar assistance provided for 2003 losses, particularly in regions of the Midwest and West that have experienced prolonged drought conditions. To date, no ad-hoc assistance has been made available for 2003 losses. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10134/
Regulation of Naked Short Selling
No Description digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9568/
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an interagency committee that serves the President in overseeing the national security implications of foreign investment in the economy. Since it was established by an Executive Order of President Ford in 1975, the committee has operated in relative obscurity.1 According to a Treasury Department memorandum, the Committee originally was established in order to placate Congress, which had grown concerned over the rapid increase in Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) investments in American portfolio assets (Treasury securities, corporate stocks and bonds), and to respond to concerns of some that much of the OPEC investments were being driven by political, rather than by economic, motives. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9420/
The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment
The United States actively promotes internationally the national treatment of foreign firms. Some Members of Congress and others are concerned with this policy, however, particularly with how it applies to allowing government-owned companies unlimited access to the Nation's industrial base. Much of this debate focuses on the activities of a relatively obscure committee, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the Exon-Florio provision, which gives the President broad powers to block certain types of foreign investment. Several Members of Congress have introduced various measures during the 2nd Session of the 109th Congress regarding this ongoing policy debate. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10344/