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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Export-Import Bank: Background and Legislative Issues

Export-Import Bank: Background and Legislative Issues

Date: April 3, 2012
Creator: Ilias, Shayerah
Description: The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank, EXIM Bank, or the Bank), an independent federal government agency, is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the United States. It helps finance U.S. exports of manufactured goods and services, with the objective of contributing to the employment of U.S. workers, primarily in circumstances when alternative financing is not available. Members of the 112th Congress may examine issues related to the Ex-Im Bank that center on the economic rationale for the Bank; the impact of the Bank on the federal budget and U.S. taxpayers; the Bank's support for specific types of business or industries; the current balance between the Bank's advancement of U.S. commercial interests and other U.S. policy goals; the competitive position of the Bank compared to foreign ECAs; and the Bank's organizational structure.
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Changing the Federal Reserve's Mandate: An Economic Analysis

Changing the Federal Reserve's Mandate: An Economic Analysis

Date: March 13, 2012
Creator: Labonte, Marc
Description: This report discusses a number of implementation issues surrounding an inflation target. These include what rate of inflation to target, what inflation measure to use, whether to set a point target or range, and what penalties to impose if a target is missed.
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The Eurozone Crisis: Overview and Issues for Congress

The Eurozone Crisis: Overview and Issues for Congress

Date: February 29, 2012
Creator: Nelson, Rebecca M.
Description: The Eurozone's economic crisis threatens economic stability in Europe and beyond. Four specific economic challenges faced are high debt levels and public deficits, weaknesses in the European banking system, recession and high unemployment in some Eurozone countries, and persistent trade imbalances. Three issues for Congress regarding these challenges are how this situation will impact the US economy, IMG involvement, and how the US and Europe will cooperate to solve these issues.
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Sovereign Debt in Advanced Economies: Overview and Issues for Congress

Sovereign Debt in Advanced Economies: Overview and Issues for Congress

Date: February 29, 2012
Creator: Nelson, Rebecca M.
Description: Sovereign debt, also called public debt or government debt, refers to debt incurred by governments. Since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, public debt in advanced economies has increased substantially. A number of factors related to the financial crisis have fueled the increase, including fiscal stimulus packages, the nationalization of private-sector debt, and lower tax revenue. Even if economic growth reverses some of these trends, such as by boosting tax receipts and reducing spending on government programs, aging populations in advanced economies are expected to strain government debt levels in coming years.
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The Depreciating Dollar: Economic Effects and Policy Response

The Depreciating Dollar: Economic Effects and Policy Response

Date: February 23, 2012
Creator: Elwell, Craig K.
Description: This report discusses the trend of depreciation of the dollar since 2002. This raises concern among some in Congress and the public that the dollar's decline is a symptom of broader economic problems, such as a weak economic recovery, rising public debt, and a diminished standing in the global economy. However, a falling currency is not always a problem, but possibly an element of economic adjustments that are, on balance, beneficial to the economy.
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Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding

Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): Background and Funding

Date: February 15, 2012
Creator: Spar, Karen
Description: This report looks at the purpose and background of Community Services Block Grants (CSBG), which provide federal funds to states, territories, and tribes for distribution to local agencies to support a wide range of community-based activities to reduce poverty. CSBG was last reauthorized in 1998, although and related programs have been funded by Congressional approval since then.
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NATO Common Funds Burdensharing: Background and Current Issues

NATO Common Funds Burdensharing: Background and Current Issues

Date: February 15, 2012
Creator: Ek, Carl
Description: This report gives an overview of the feasibility of burdensharing amongst North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states due to the global financial crisis and defense budget cuts in many of the contributing nations.
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Evaluating the Current Stance of Monetary Policy Using a Taylor Rule

Evaluating the Current Stance of Monetary Policy Using a Taylor Rule

Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Labonte, Marc
Description: Oversight of the Federal Reserve's (Fed's) monetary policy decisions rests with Congress. But oversight is encumbered by the absence of a straightforward relationship between interest rates and economic performance. Further, the Fed's policy decisions are discretionary, meaning there is no objective, transparent “yardstick” for evaluating their decisions. A simple rule of thumb guide to monetary policy decisions called a “Taylor rule” is an intuitive way to judge actual policy against some objective, albeit simplistic, ideal. Taylor rules prescribe a federal funds target based on inflation and the output gap (i.e., the difference between actual gross domestic product [GDP] and potential GDP) and can be adjusted to reflect a variety of policy goals.
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Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

Date: January 30, 2012
Creator: Labonte, Marc
Description: The Federal Reserve (Fed) defines monetary policy as the actions it undertakes to influence the availability and cost of money and credit. Since the expectations of market participants play an important role in determining prices and growth, monetary policy can also be defined to include the directives, policies, statements, and actions of the Fed that influence how the future is perceived. In addition, the Fed acts as a “lender of last resort” to the nation's financial system, meaning that it ensures continued smooth functioning of financial intermediation by providing financial markets with adequate liquidity. This role has become of great importance following the onset of the recent financial crisis. Congress has delegated responsibility for monetary policy to the Fed, but retains oversight responsibilities to ensure that the Fed is adhering to its statutory mandate “maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” This report looks at the background and influences of current legislation that would affect the Fed's practices.
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Multilateral Development Banks: General Capital Increases

Multilateral Development Banks: General Capital Increases

Date: January 27, 2012
Creator: Weiss, Martin A.
Description: This report discusses issues related to each of the major Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) simultaneously seeking increases in their capital bases to fund the continued expansion of their development lending programs. U.S. authorization to participate in the GCIs was provided in the FY2011 and FY2012 budget measures. Key issues regarding U.S. participation in the GCIs include: comparative effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral aid, scope of MDB activity, role of emerging economic powers, U.S. bidding for MDB-funded projects, and anti-corruption policies.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department