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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment

The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment

Date: February 23, 2006
Creator: Jackson, James K
Description: The proposed acquisition of major operations in six major U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World and of Unocal by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation sparked intense concerns among some Members of Congress and the public and has reignited the debate over what role foreign acquisitions play in U.S. national security. The United States actively promotes internationally the national treatment of foreign firms. Several Members of Congress have introduced various measures during the 2nd Session of the 109th Congress that can be grouped into four major areas: those that deal specifically with the proposed Dubai Ports World acquisition; those that focus more generally on foreign ownership of U.S. ports; those that would amend the CFIUS process; and those that would amend the Exon-Florio process.
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The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement: A Brief Description

The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement: A Brief Description

Date: February 22, 2006
Creator: Maguire, Steven
Description: None
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The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement: A Brief Description

The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement: A Brief Description

Date: February 22, 2006
Creator: Maguire, Steven
Description: None
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The Basel Accords: The Implementation of II and the Modification of I

The Basel Accords: The Implementation of II and the Modification of I

Date: February 21, 2006
Creator: Eubanks, Walter W
Description: This report provides the basic information needed to understand the issues surrounding the proposed implementation of Basel II and the pending proposed modifications of Basel I in the United States. First, it gives a basic background on capital standards and how capital assessments were made before these accords. Second, it briefly explains how Basel I works. Third, it addresses the major problem with Basel I and the modifications being considered. Fourth, it describes the Basel II framework the United States may implement and the framework the EU is already implementing. The report concludes with a section on Congress and the Basel Accords.
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Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit

Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit

Date: February 14, 2006
Creator: Jackson, James K.
Description: The U.S. merchandise trade deficit is a part of the overall U.S. balance of payments, a summary statement of all economic transactions between the residents of the United States and the rest of the world, during a given period of time. Some Members of Congress and other observers have grown concerned over the magnitude of the growing U.S. merchandise trade deficit and the associated increase in U.S. dollar-denominated assets owned by foreigners. This report provides an overview of the U.S. balance of payments, an explanation of the broader role of capital flows in the U.S. economy, an explanation of how the country finances its trade deficit or a trade surplus, and the implications for Congress and the country of the large inflows of capital from abroad.
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Campaign Finance

Campaign Finance

Date: February 8, 2006
Creator: Cantor, Joseph E
Description: Concerns over financing federal elections have become a seemingly perennial aspect of our political system, long centered on the enduring issues of high campaign costs and reliance on interest groups for needed campaign funds. This report discusses campaign finance practices, enduring issues and today’s paramount issues. In addition it presents the Legislative Action in the 108th and 109th Congress, as well as the Congressional efforts to close perceived loopholes in Federal Election Law.
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FEMA's Flood Hazard Map Modernization Initiative

FEMA's Flood Hazard Map Modernization Initiative

Date: February 3, 2006
Creator: Morrissey, Wayne A
Description: This report discusses the the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which required the Flood Insurance Administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development to produce countywide “Flood Insurance Rate Maps,” or FIRMs, to set federal flood insurance premiums based on flood risk.
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The Pattern of Interest Rates in 2006: Could It Signal an Impending Recession?

The Pattern of Interest Rates in 2006: Could It Signal an Impending Recession?

Date: February 2, 2006
Creator: Labonte, Marc & Makinen, Gail
Description: None
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The Pattern of Interest Rates in 2006: Could It Signal an Impending Recession?

The Pattern of Interest Rates in 2006: Could It Signal an Impending Recession?

Date: February 2, 2006
Creator: Labonte, Marc & Makinen, Gail
Description: None
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Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs

Small Business Administration: A Primer on Programs

Date: January 20, 2006
Creator: Weiss, N. Eric
Description: None
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Banking and Securities Regulation and Agency Enforcement Authorities

Banking and Securities Regulation and Agency Enforcement Authorities

Date: January 17, 2006
Creator: Jackson, William D; Jickling, Mark; Shorter, Gary; Murphy, M. Maureen & Seitzinger, Michael V
Description: The federal bank regulatory agencies — the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Office of Thrift Supervision — have extensive authority to enforce various legal and regulatory standards with respect to the banking institutions that they supervise. Similarly, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a wide range of tools to enforce the securities laws. This report provides a brief sketch of these authorities and identifies the organizational entities within each agency that Congress assigns enforcement responsibilities. It includes a table comparing the formal enforcement tools that the banking agencies may use with those of the SEC.
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Interest Payments on the Federal Debt: A Primer

Interest Payments on the Federal Debt: A Primer

Date: December 27, 2005
Creator: Hungerford, Thomas L
Description: None
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Credit Card Minimum Payments

Credit Card Minimum Payments

Date: December 21, 2005
Creator: Smale, Pauline
Description: Recently, credit card issuers began adjusting their minimum payment formulas, raising the amount of the required monthly payment. Congress has focused on the need to increase consumer awareness of the financial jeopardy that can result from paying only the required minimum. This report provides an overview of the issues and congressional action. It will be updated as events warrant.
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China's Currency: Brief Overview of U.S. Opinions

China's Currency: Brief Overview of U.S. Opinions

Date: November 29, 2005
Creator: Sanford, Jonathan E
Description: Many are concerned that China’s currency is undervalued and that this injures the U.S. economy. The Chinese authorities say they are not manipulating their currency and they want to move as soon as possible to a market-based yuan. A new exchange rate procedure was announced in July 2005 but has not resulted in meaningful changes in the yuan’s international value. This report reviews the issues and discusses alternative approaches the United States might take to encourage more rapid reform.
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Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues

Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues

Date: November 23, 2005
Creator: Monke, Jim
Description: The federal government has a long history of providing credit assistance to farmers by issuing direct loans and guarantees, and creating rural lending institutions. These institutions include the Farm Credit System (FCS), which is a network of borrower-owned lending institutions operating as a government-sponsored enterprise, and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which makes or guarantees loans to farmers who cannot qualify at other lenders. When loans cannot be repaid, special bankruptcy provisions help family farmers reorganize debts and continue farming (P.L. 109-8 made Chapter 12 permanent and expanded eligibility). S. 238 and H.R. 399 (the Rural Economic Investment Act) would exempt commercial banks from paying taxes on profits from farm real estate loans, thus providing similar benefits as to the Farm Credit System.
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Costs and Benefits of Clear Skies: EPA's Analysis of Multi-Pollutant Clean Air Bills

Costs and Benefits of Clear Skies: EPA's Analysis of Multi-Pollutant Clean Air Bills

Date: November 23, 2005
Creator: McCarthy, James E & Parker, Larry
Description: This report examines EPA's analysis and adjusts some of its assumptions to reflect current regulations. The most important adjustment is the choice of baseline. The agency’s analysis assumes as a baseline that, in the absence of new federal legislation, EPA and the states will take no additional action to control SO2, NOx, Hg, or CO2 emissions beyond those actions finalized by mid-2004. This baseline is put forth despite three rules recently promulgated by EPA that limit SO2, NOx, and Hg emissions on a timeframe similar to that proposed by the Clear Skies legislation.
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Farm Credit System

Farm Credit System

Date: November 23, 2005
Creator: Monke, Jim
Description: This report discusses the Farm Credit System (FCS) is a nationwide financial cooperative that lends to agricultural producers, rural homeowners, certain agriculture-related businesses, and agricultural, aquatic, and public utility cooperatives. Established by the Federal Farm Loan Act in 1916 as a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), it has a statutory mandate to serve agriculture and related enterprises.
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Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt

Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt

Date: November 23, 2005
Creator: Murray, Justin & Labonte, Marc
Description: None
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Accounting Problems at Fannie Mae

Accounting Problems at Fannie Mae

Date: November 15, 2005
Creator: Jickling, Mark
Description: On September 22, 2004, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Supervision (OFHEO) made public a report that was highly critical of accounting methods at Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored enterprise that plays a leading role in the secondary mortgage market. OFHEO charged Fannie Mae with not following generally accepted accounting practices in two critical areas: (1) amortization of discounts, premiums, and fees involved in the purchase of home mortgages and (2) accounting for financial derivatives contracts. According to OFHEO, these deviations from standard accounting rules allowed Fannie Mae to reduce volatility in reported earnings, present investors with an artificial picture of steadily growing profits, and, in at least one case, to meet financial performance targets that triggered the payment of bonuses to company executives. On November 15, 2004, Fannie Mae reported that it was unable to file a third-quarter earnings statement because its auditor, KPMG, refused to sign off on the accounting results. On December 15, 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), after finding inadequacies in Fannie’s accounting policies and methodologies, directed Fannie Mae to restate its accounting results since 2001. Shortly thereafter, the company’s CEO and CFO resigned. It is estimated that earnings since 2001 will be revised downwards ...
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Stock Options: The Accounting Issue and Its Consequences

Stock Options: The Accounting Issue and Its Consequences

Date: November 15, 2005
Creator: Lyke, Bob & Shorter, Gary
Description: The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued a long-anticipated rule that stock options must be recognized as an expense on corporation income statements. The previous accounting rule permitted but did not require recognition; corporations that elected to omit the cost of options, as most did, have been able to report higher earnings. This report examines the debate surrounding the issue and discusses the potential consequences.
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Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Legislation (Including Budgetary Implications)

Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Legislation (Including Budgetary Implications)

Date: November 9, 2005
Creator: Miles, Barbara L & Jackson, William D
Description: This report discusses two major deposit insurance reform bills that are currently before Congress, the Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Act of 2005 and the Safe and Fair Deposit Insurance Act of 2005. Both bills, if passed, would effectively raise assessments paid by banks and savings associations to the deposit insurance fund.
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The Berne Union: An Overview

The Berne Union: An Overview

Date: November 8, 2005
Creator: Jackson, James K
Description: The Berne Union, or the International Union of Credit and Investment Insurers, is an international organization comprised of 54 public and private sector members that represent various segments of the export credit and investment insurance industry. Within the Berne Union, the United States is represented by the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Eximbank) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and four private-sector firms and by one observer. Congress, through its oversight of Eximbank and OPIC, as well as international trade and finance, has interests in the functioning of the Berne Union.
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Is the U.S. Trade Deficit Caused by a Global Saving Glut?

Is the U.S. Trade Deficit Caused by a Global Saving Glut?

Date: November 4, 2005
Creator: Labonte, Marc
Description: This report discusses the concern about the size of the current U.S. account deficit, popularly known as the trade deficit. Also compares and analyzes the conventional view with the global saving glut view.
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Employment-Related Issues in Bankruptcy

Employment-Related Issues in Bankruptcy

Date: November 1, 2005
Creator: Jeweler, Robin
Description: This report provides an overview of the status of employee wages and benefits, including retiree benefits, when an employer files in bankruptcy, and the amendments made to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. This report examines those provisions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code which govern the priority of employee wage and benefit claims, including severance payments; procedures for a chapter 1 1 debtor to modify benefits under a collective bargaining agreement; and procedures for a chapter 11 debtor to modify retiree life and health insurance benefits. It examines the role of employees on creditor committees and procedures in bankruptcy that facilitate lawsuits that may be directed at an employer/debtor. Finally, it considers the treatment accorded some aspects of managerial compensation, such as retention bonuses.
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