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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Multiple-Group Federal Credit Unions: An Update
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Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues
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.
Standard & Poor's Downgrade of U.S. Government Long-Term Debt
This report discusses the lowering of the U.S. government debt credit rating by Standard & Poor's (S&P) on August 5, 2011. It discusses the reasons behind the lowered credit rating and implications for the U.S. economy, other debt markets, and banking regulations.
Supervision of U.S. Payment, Clearing, and Settlement Systems: Designation of Financial Market Utilities (FMUs)
This report outlines the changes to the supervision of key market infrastructure that are embodied in the Dodd-Frank Act. It is intended to be used as a reference for those interested in the financial system's "plumbing," and how the associated systems are currently overseen and regulated.
Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 111th Congress
This report discusses congressional and action on insurance regulation in the wake of the recent financial crisis. Although the financial crisis has changed the focus of the debate surrounding insurance regulatory reform, many of the pre-crisis pressures for regulatory changes continue.
Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's Financial Problems
This report discusses the continuing conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at a time of uncertainty in the housing, mortgage, and financial markets has raised doubts about the future of these enterprises, which are chartered by Congress as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and whose debts are widely believed to be implicitly guaranteed by the federal government.
The Federal Debt: Who Bears Its Burdens?
This report discusses the federal debt, which quintupled from FY1980 to FY1995 and went from 26% to 50% of GDP. The report examines changing ideas in regards to what segment of the population most feels the effects of growing government debt, and how its effects manifest.
U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues
Report that provides a brief overview of how foreign investments can affect the U.S.
U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues
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The United States as a Net Debtor Nation: Overview of the International Investment Position
This report looks at international investing patterns and impacts, and ends with considerations on this topic for Congress.
Regulation of Debit Interchange Fees
This report provides a description of the debit payments process and network pricing, as well as an overview of the effects of the Durbin Amendement implemented by the Federal Reserve which includes a cap on the interchange fee for large issuers. In particular, the Durbin Amendment is discussed in light of comments by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank: Issues and Policy Options for Congress
This report provides background information and potential issues and options for Congress relating to the reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank. The scope of this report is limited to Ex-Im Bank reauthorization issues.
Reduce, Refinance, and Rent? The Economic Incentives, Risks, and Ramifications of Housing Market Policy Options
This report discusses the background of financial panic in September 2008, precipitated by the housing bubble of 2006. In particular, the report looks at options that the 112th Congress has regarding the housing market: (1) reducing mortgage principal for borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, (2) refinancing mortgages for borrowers shut out of traditional financing methods, and (3) renting out foreclosed homes.
Multilateral Development Banks: How the United States Makes and Implements Policy
This report analyzes how the United States makes policy towards the multilateral development banks (MDBs) and identifies ways by which Congress can shape U.S. policy and influence the activities of the banks themselves.
Annuities and the Securities and Exchange Commission Proposed Rule 151A
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently released a proposed rule that would effectively reclassify equity indexed annuities as a security product in addition to being an insurance product. This report presents the different types of annuities, explains the taxation of annuities, and disentangles the federal and state roles in the regulation of annuities. It outlines the proposed SEC rule and its current status.
Islamic Finance: Overview and Policy Concerns
The international market for Islamic finance has grown between 10% to 15% annually in recent years. Islamic finance historically has been concentrated in the Persian Gulf countries, but has expanded globally to both Muslim and non-Muslim countries. There is a small but growing market for Islamic finance in the United States. Through international and domestic regulatory bodies, there has been effort to standardize regulations in Islamic finance across different countries and financial institutions, although challenges remain. Critics of Islamic finance express concerns about possible ties between Islamic finance and political agendas or terrorist financing and the use of Islamic finance to circumvent U.S. economic sanctions. Proponents argue that Islamic finance presents significant new business opportunities and provides alternate methods for capital formation and economic development.
Industrial Loan Companies/Banks and the Separation of Banking and Commerce: Legislative and Regulatory Perspectives
Industrial Loan Companies (ILCs), are state-chartered and state-regulated depository institutions whose deposits the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) may insure. This report addresses the controversy over expansion of ILCs by line of business and by branching across the nation as follows, providing: (1) a historical overview of the U.S. separation of banking and commerce; (2) information on ILCs and their regulation; and (3) identifying and analyzing relevant legislation in Congress.
Islamic Finance: Overview and Policy Concerns
This report discusses Islamic finance, which is based on principles of shariah, or "Islamic law." Major financial principles of shariah are a ban on interest, a ban on contractual uncertainty, adherence to risk-sharing and profit-sharing, promotion of ethical investments that enhance society, and asset-backing. While the Islamic finance industry represents a fraction of the global finance market, it has grown at double-digit rates in recent years.
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.
How Treasury Issues Debt
This report examines Treasury's debt management practices, focusing on the auction process, how prices and interest rates of securities are determined, and the role of market participants in the process. It also addresses the role of debt plays in influencing present and future budget outcomes.
Auction Basics: Background for Assessing Proposed Treasury Purchases of Mortgage- Backed Securities
This report discusses the administrations' proposal to use reverse Dutch auctions to purchase troubled assets -- primarily mortgage-related securities from financial institutions.
The Financial Crisis in Argentina
This report discusses the social and political situation in Argentina, more specifically political and financial crisis that ended the presidency of Fernando de la Rua on December 20, 2001. This report concludes with the May 25, 2003 inauguration of President Kirchner.
Managing Farm Risk in a New Policy Era
This report discusses the enhancements to the crop insurance and revenue insurance programs that are expected to be considered by the 106th Congress in order to improve the farm financial safety net and preclude the need for ad hoc legislative assistance.
China's Recent Stock Market Volatility: What Are the Implications?
This report briefly discusses the consequences of rapid price increases from about mid-2014 to mid-2015 in China's two main stock markets, the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE).
China's Recent Stock Market Volatility: What Are the Implications?
This report briefly discusses the background and implications of the rapid price increases experienced in China's two main stock markets, the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE), from about mid-2014 to mid-2015.
Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Financial Problems
This report presents, in analytical question and answer form, the issues surrounding the financial conditions of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are stockholder-owned government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). Their federal charters give the GSEs special public policy goals aimed at providing liquidity in the mortgage market and to provide access to homeownership for underserved groups and locations. In return, their charters give the GSEs a special relationship with the government.
Small Business Administration Microloan Program
This report describes the Microloan program's eligibility standards and operating requirements for lenders and borrowers and examines the arguments presented by the program's critics and advocates. It also examines changes to the program authorized by P.L. 111-240, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.
Budgetary Treatment of Federal Credit (Direct Loans and Loan Guarantees): Concepts, History, and Issues for Congress
The purpose of this report is to explain the provisions of the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 or FCRA; examine the implementation of credit reform, including credit reform provisions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (P.L. 105- 33, §1011; 111 Stat. 254,692); discuss proposed modifications of credit reform; and describe proposed legislation in the 113th Congress.
Reintroduction of the 30-Year Treasury Bond: An Economic Analysis
This report discusses the reintroduction of the 30-year bond that could reduce government borrowing costs.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): Efforts to Support Financial and Housing Markets
This report discusses recent actions taken by the FDIC in support of financial and housing markets, which include restoration of the Deposit Insurance Fund, the development of the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, efforts to reduce foreclosures, and establishment of the proposed Public-Private Investment Fund. Legislation such as H.R. 786 (introduced by Representative Barney Frank); H.R. 1106, Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (introduced by Representative John Conyers, Jr., with 24 co-sponsors); and S. 541, The Depositor Protection Act of 2009 (introduced by Senator Christopher Dodd with 12 co-sponsors) have also been introduced to increase the effectiveness of the FDIC’s efforts to respond to recent market weaknesses.
Understanding Mortgage Foreclosure: Recent Events, the Process, and Costs
This report provides a general analysis and overview of current foreclosure issues addressed in the bills cited above. It begins with a description of the behavior of aggregate foreclosure rates. The behaviors of foreclosure rates are placed in the context of activity in the housing and mortgage market to illustrate any relationships. The foreclosure process is then explained, first from the point of view of a traditional financial lending institution, and then from the viewpoint of securitization when loans are sold in secondary markets. Finally, this report collects information from other studies to obtain an estimate of the average foreclosure costs. A brief discussion of the effect uniform foreclosure legislation may have on costs follows.
Why is the Household Saving Rate So Low?
This report begins by showing how much the household saving rate has declined in recent years. Next, it explains how household saving is measured, and provides some detail on how saving varies across the income distribution. Finally, it discusses factors that may account for the decline in household saving, as well as how much of a policy concern the decline in household saving may be.
Ability to Repay, Risk-Retention Standards, and Mortgage Credit Access
This report examines the developments associated with the implementation of mortgage lending reforms. The report begins with a summary of proposed ability to repay and risk-retention standards. Next, the report describes risky underwriting and financing practices that occurred prior to the mortgage crisis, followed by a discussion of how access to mortgage credit might be affected.
Overview of the Securities Act of 1933 as Applied to Private Label Mortgage-Backed Securities
This report will provide an overview of the Securities Act of 1933 as it may be applied to mortgage-backed securities issued by private industry participants.
Tax Gap: Proposals in the 110th Congress to Require Brokers to Report Basis on Publicly Traded Securities
Recent and projected large deficits and the need for revenue to offset spending or tax reduction proposals generated congressional and executive branch interest in different proposals to reduce the tax gap; and consequently, raise additional revenue. Proposals in the 110th Congress to require brokers to report adjusted basis on publicly traded securities sold by individuals are examined in this report.
One Million Personal Bankruptcies a Year: Economic Implications and Policy Options
This report examines various explanations for the rapid rise in personal bankruptcy filings in the United States since 1980, the economic significance of the phenomenon, and policy options. This discussion and analysis provide a background for consideration of legislation before the 105th Congress ( H.R. 3150 and S. 1301), which proposes to reform the consumer bankruptcy process.
Small Business Administration Microloan Program
The Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Microloan program provides direct loans to qualified nonprofit intermediary lenders who, in turn, provide “microloans” of up to $50,000 to small businesses and nonprofit child care centers. It also provides marketing, management, and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and potential borrowers. This report opens with a discussion of the rationale provided for having a Microloan program, describes the program’s eligibility standards and operating requirements for lenders and borrowers, and examines the arguments presented by the program’s critics and advocates. It then discusses P.L. 111-240, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which increased the Microloan program’s loan limit for borrowers from $35,000 to $50,000, and the aggregate loan limit for intermediaries after their first year of participation in the program from $3.5 million to $5 million.
Federal Credit Reform: Implementation Of the Changed Budgetary Treatment of Direct Loans and Loan Guarantees
This report explains the provisions of the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (FCRA), examine the implementation of credit reform including credit reform provisions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA97), and discusses proposed modifications of credit reform. In order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to initially discuss justifications for credit programs, federal credit concepts, and the budgetary treatment of federal credit before the FCRA.
Taxation of Hedge Fund and Private Equity Managers
This report provides background on hedge funds and private equity and summarizes the tax issues.
Predatory Lending: Background on the Issue and Overview of Legislation in the 106th Congress
This report presents an overview of the predatory lending issue, a summary of present law, a summary of joint HUD and Treasury recommendations to address the issue, and a side-by-side summary of five bills introduced in the 106th Congress that addressed the issue. Though no action occurred on these bills, the issue is expected to continue in the 107th Congress.
Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues
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 Service Agency (FSA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which makes or guarantees loans to farmers who cannot qualify at other lenders, and the Farm Credit System (FCS), which is a network of borrower-owned lending institutions operating as a government-sponsored enterprise. This report discusses legislation regarding this credit assistance expected in the the 110th Congress. Appropriators will consider funding for FSA’s farm loan programs, and the agriculture committees may consider changes to FSA and FCS lending programs. The 2007 farm bill is expected to be the venue for many of the authorizing issues, although stand-alone legislation may be used for extensive reforms.
Credit Rating Agency Regulatory Reform: A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 2990 and S. 3850
This report provides a side-by-side comparison of the H.R. 2990 and S. 3850 bills’ major provisions.
Treasury Issues White Paper on Fintech and Marketplace Lending
This report briefly discusses the context and contents of a white paper issued on May 10, 2016 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The paper analyzes regulatory issues for the marketplace lending industry and offers several recommendations for industry and government responses.
Comparison of the Bankruptcy Reform Act, H.R. 833, 106th Congress, Passed by the House and the Senate
This report surveys the legislation’s legislative history. It provides a brief narrative and side-by-side comparison of selected provisions in the House and Senate bills, with an emphasis on consumer bankruptcy.
Credit Card Minimum Payments
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.
Housing Issues in the 110th Congress
This report examines housing-related issues that have become prominent in the 110th Congress. Possibly the most visible issue is the prevalence of subprime loans and growing mortgage default and foreclosure rates. Congress has responded with numerous hearings and legislative proposals both to change the way in which the lending and home-buying industry is regulated and to assist borrowers who are facing default and foreclosure.
Currency Manipulation: The IMF and WTO
This report describes how the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) deal with the issue of currency manipulation. It also discusses apparent discrepancies in their charters and ways those differences might be addressed.
East Asia's Foreign Exchange Rate Policies
This report examines the de facto foreign exchange rate policies adopted by the monetary authorities of East Asia. In some cases, there is a perceived discrepancy between the official (de jure) exchange rate policy and the observed de facto exchange rate policy. This report will focus primarily on the de facto exchange rate policies
Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?
This report explains what the Social Security trust funds are and how they work. It describes the historical operations of the trust funds and the Social Security trustees' projections of future operations. It explains what could happen if Congress allowed the trust funds to run out. It also analyzes two scenarios that assume Congress waits until the moment of insolvency to act, showing the magnitude of benefit cuts or tax increases needed and how such changes would affect beneficiaries.
Greece's Debt Crisis: Overview, Policy Responses, and Implications
Greece is currently facing such a sovereign debt crisis. On May 2, 2010, the Eurozone members and International Monetary Fund (IMF) endorsed a historic €110 billion (about $145 billion) financial package for Greece in an effort to avoid a Greek default and to stem contagion of Greece's crisis to other European countries, particularly Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy. This report provides an overview of the crisis; outlines the major causes of the crisis, focusing on both domestic and international factors; examines how Greece, the Eurozone members, and the IMF have responded to the crisis; and highlights the broader implications of Greece's debt crisis, including for the United States.