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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Tax Credit Bonds: Overview and Analysis
Almost all state and local governments sell bonds to finance public projects and certain qualified private activities. Most of the bonds issued are tax-exempt bonds because the interest payments are not included in the bondholder's (purchaser's) federal taxable income. In contrast, Tax Credit Bonds (TCBs) are a type of bond that offers the holder a federal tax credit instead of interest. This report explains the tax credit mechanism and describes the market for the bonds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491320/
Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview
This report examines campaign finance law in the context of political party committee expenditures. It discusses relevant Supreme Court precedent and recent legislative activity. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491338/
Who Regulates Whom? An Overview of U.S. Financial Supervision
This report provides an overview of current U.S. financial regulation: which agencies are responsible for which institutions, activities, and markets, and what kinds of authority they have. Some agencies regulate particular types of institutions for risky behavior or conflicts of interest, some agencies promulgate rules for certain financial transactions no matter what kind of institution engages in it, and other agencies enforce existing rules for some institutions, but not for others. These regulatory activities are not necessarily mutually exclusive. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491273/
The European Union's Response to the 2007-2009 Financial Crisis
This report examines the EU responses to the financial crisis through changes to the financial regulatory structure at the EU level as well as the member country level. The countries examined are Germany and the United Kingdom, which have single financial regulators; the Netherlands, which has a twin peaks regulatory structure; and Spain, which has a functional structure. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491275/
"Living Wills": The Legal Regime for Constructing Resolution Plans for Certain Financial Institutions
One of the chief objectives of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (DFA) is to promote financial stability within the United States, without the need for emergency governmental assistance to troubled firms. To achieve this goal, the DFA establishes a heightened regulatory regime for certain, generally large "covered financial institutions." A pillar of this heightened regulatory regime is that each covered financial institution must submit "credible" plans to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) detailing how the firm could be quickly resolved in an orderly fashion under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code or other applicable insolvency regime "in the event of a material financial distress or failure." These resolution plans are commonly referred to as "living wills." This report reviews the legal structure of the DFA's living will requirements, pursuant to both DFA Section 165(d) and the regulations and guidance issued jointly by the FRB and FDIC, and explains the August 2014 joint announcement of the FRB and FDIC regarding the inadequacies of the 2013 living wills filed by the 11 largest, most complex financial institutions in the country. This report also examines some of the steps that these institutions might voluntarily take. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491021/
The "Volcker": Proposals to Limit "Speculative" Proprietary Trading by Banks
This report briefly discusses the permissible proprietary trading activities of commercial banks and their subsidiaries under current law. It then analyzes the Volcker Rule proposals under both the House- and Senate-passed financial reform bills. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491207/
Financial Turmoil: Federal Reserve Policy Responses
The Federal Reserve (Fed) has been central in the policy response to the financial turmoil that began in August 2007. It has sharply increased reserves to the banking system through open market operations and lowered the federal funds rate and discount rate on several occasions. This report reviews the Fed's actions since August 2007 and analyzes the policy issues raised by those actions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491458/
Financial Regulatory Reform: Systemic Risk and the Federal Reserve
This report defines the potential duties and responsibilities of a systemic risk regulator, relating those duties to events that potentially contributed to the recent crisis. It then identifies the powers that would need to be given to a regulator to perform those duties, and compares those powers and responsibilities to the Fed's existing powers and responsibilities. It discusses advantages and disadvantages of giving those responsibilities to the Fed or the executive branch. It also includes a brief overview of major elements of the Administration's proposal, H.R. 4173, which passed the House on December 11, 2009, and S. 3217, which passed the Senate on May 20, 2010,2 that involve the Fed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491469/
Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491116/
Legislative Options After Citizens United v. FEC: Constitutional and Legal Issues
In Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court invalidated two provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), finding that they were unconstitutional under the First Amendment. In response to the Supreme Court's ruling, various proposals have been discussed and legislation has been introduced in the 111th Congress. This report provides an analysis of the constitutional and legal issues raised by several proposals, organized by regulatory topic: increasing disclaimer requirements, increasing disclosure for tax-exempt organizations, requiring shareholder notification and approval, restricting U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations, restricting political expenditures by government contractors and grantees, taxing corporate independent expenditures, and providing public financing for congressional campaigns. The report also addresses amending the Constitution. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491138/
Financial Regulatory Reform and the 111th Congress
This report reviews issues related to financial regulation. It provides brief descriptions of the two main comprehensive reform bills in the 111th Congress that address these issues. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491630/
Foreign Investment in U.S. Securities
Foreign capital inflows are playing an important role in the U.S. economy by bridging the gap between domestic supplies of and demand for capital. 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/metadc491530/
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Title X, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This report provides a legal overview of the regulatory structure of consumer finance under existing federal law, which is followed by an analysis of how the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 will change this legal structure, with a focus on the Bureau's organization and funding; the entities and activities that fall (and do not fall) under the Bureau's supervisory, enforcement, and rulemaking authority; the Bureau's general and specific rulemaking powers and procedures; and an analysis of the act's preemption standards over state consumer protection laws as they apply to national banks and thrifts. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490865/
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Executive Compensation
This report discusses the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173), which was implemented as part of financial regulatory reform initiatives undertaken by Congress in light of the recent global economic crisis. The legislation focuses on executive compensation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490937/
Social Security: Calculation and History of Taxing Benefits
This report discusses the calculations that go into taxing Social Security benefits, which prior to 1984 were exempt from taxation but have since been taxed at gradually increasing levels. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463427/
Social Security Reform: Legal Analysis of Social Security Benefit Entitlement Issues
This report addresses selected legal issues which may be raised regarding entitlement to Social Security benefits as Congress considers possible changes to the Social Security program, and in view of projected long-range shortfalls in the Social Security Trust Funds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463036/
Tolling of Interstate Highways: Issues in Brief
In recent years, the revenues flowing into the highway trust fund have been insufficient to maintain even current levels of federal funding for highways. Political resistance to raising the federal fuels tax is high. This report discusses arguments for and against expanding tolling of the Interstate highways as a means of generating needed funds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463040/
Ebbs and Flows of Federal Debt
This report will define the measures of debt, discuss the mechanisms of how debt levels change, and use historical examples to illustrate the factors causing debt movements over the last seven decades. In addition, some policies which may affect the future budgetary outlook and the debt will be discussed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462087/
Iraq's Debt Relief: Procedure and Potential Implications for International Debt Relief
This report discusses the Iraqi debt problem in three parts: [1] overview of the Iraq debt situation following the ouster of the Saddam regime; [2] subsequent debt relief negotiations and their resolution; [3] possible implications for future debt relief cases that arise from Iraq's experience. The implications are: a willingness by the international community to grant a stay on the enforcement of creditor rights; an increased flexibility in Paris Club debt relief decisions; and an unwillingness by successor regimes to claim that their debt is odious and repudiate it. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462036/
Securities Fraud Class Action Certification: Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, Inc.
This report discusses requirements for securities fraud class action certification. The report also specifically examines each of the decisions made in the Halliburton cases, which proceeded through two complete rounds in federal district court, court of appeals, and the Supreme Court. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462069/
The OECD Initiative on Tax Havens
This report examines the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its role in changes to U.S. laws related to bribery, tax havens. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462229/
Palestinian Authority: U.S. Payments to Creditors as Alternative to Direct Budgetary Assistance?
A September 24, 2014, congressional notification (CN) from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) may reflect a new executive branch approach in assisting the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pay off some of the debts it incurs in providing various benefits and services to West Bank and Gaza residents. The CN indicates that USAID plans to obligate a total of $100 million in FY2014 bilateral economic assistance for the Palestinians toward direct U.S. payments to PA creditors. This report briefly discusses the details and implications of this new alternative method. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462260/
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/
Taxation of Hedge Fund and Private Equity Managers
This report discusses the major issues surrounding the tax treatment of hedge fund and private equity managers and will be updated as legislative developments warrant. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462305/
"Dark Pools" In Equity Trading: Significance and Recent Developments
This report discusses "Dark Pools", relatively recent and controversial electronic stock trading alternatives to traditional exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and now account for about 15% of overall trading volume. The report discusses the pros and cons of "dark trading", civil suits in reaction to Dark Pools and recent Securities and Exchange Commission actions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462349/
International Trade and Finance: Key Policy Issues for the 113th Congress, Second Session
This report highlights major international trade and finance issues that the 113th Congress may address. This report presents broader congressional oversight of the economic and political context of the current U.S. participation in the global economy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462361/
The American Opportunity Tax Credit: Overview, Analysis, and Policy Options
This report provides both an in-depth description of this tax credit and an analysis of its economic impact. This report is organized to first provide an overview of the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), followed by a legislative history that highlights the evolution of education tax credits from proposals in the 1960s through the recent extension of the AOTC at the end of 2012. This report then analyzes the credit by looking at who claims the credit, the effect education tax credits have on increasing college attendance, and administrative issues with the AOTC. Finally, this report concludes with a brief overview of various policy options, including tax law changes proposed in Chairman Camp's tax reform bill3 and in the President's FY2015 budget request. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463239/
Social Security: Trust Fund Investment Practices
This report describes Social Security trust fund investment practices under current law. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc461980/
Designating Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs)
This report discusses congressional concerns regarding the Financial Stability Oversight Council's (FSOC) authorization to designate certain non-bank entities as Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462755/
An Overview of the Housing Finance System in the United States
This report provides an overview of how the housing finance system works and provides context for housing finance-related policy issues that Congress might choose to consider. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462704/
Palestinian Authority: U.S. Payments to Creditors as Alternative to Direct Budgetary Assistance?
A September 24, 2014, congressional notification (CN) from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) may reflect a new executive branch approach in assisting the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pay off some of the debts it incurs in providing various benefits and services to West Bank and Gaza residents. The CN indicates that USAID plans to obligate a total of $100 million in FY2014 bilateral economic assistance for the Palestinians toward direct U.S. payments to PA creditors. This report briefly discusses the details and implications of this new alternative method. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463198/
The OECD Initiative on Tax Havens
This report examines the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its role in changes to U.S. laws related to bribery, tax havens. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462457/
Foreign Investment in U.S. Securities
This report relies on a comprehensive set of data on capital flows, represented by purchases and sales of U.S. government securities and U.S. and foreign corporate stocks, bonds, into and out of the United States, that is reported by the Treasury Department on a monthly basis. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463368/
The STOCK Act, Insider Trading, and Public Financial Reporting by Federal Officials
This report gives an overview of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (STOCK), which affirms and makes explicit the fact that there is no exemption from the "insider trading" laws and regulations for Members of Congress, congressional employees, or any federal officials. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462904/
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 and 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/metadc463281/
The OECD Initiative on Tax Havens
This report examines the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its role in changes to U.S. laws related to bribery, tax havens. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462803/
Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions
This report provides an overview of the Federal Reserve and issues for Congress. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) defines monetary policy as the actions it undertakes to influence the availability and cost of money and credit. Because 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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462847/
U.S. International Investment Agreements: Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of U.S. international investment agreements, focusing specifically on bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in free trade agreements (FTAs). It discusses key trends in U.S. and international investment flows, governance structures for investment at the bilateral and multilateral levels, the goals and basic components of investment provisions in U.S. international investment agreements, the outcomes of the Administration's Model BIT review, and key policy issues for Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462463/
Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response
The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. This report discusses the disaster and various responses, ranging from the Haitian government's initial response to foreign humanitarian and financial aid. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501598/
Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response
The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. This report discusses the disaster and various responses, ranging from the Haitian government's initial response to foreign humanitarian and financial aid. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501690/
Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response
The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. This report discusses the disaster and various responses, ranging from the Haitian government's initial response to foreign humanitarian and financial aid. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501878/
Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response
The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. This report discusses the disaster and various responses, ranging from the Haitian government's initial response to foreign humanitarian and financial aid. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501760/
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 and 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/metadc501737/
Government Assistance for GMAC/Ally Financial: Unwinding the Government Stake
This report discusses government support given to Ally Financial, formerly known as General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), which provides auto financing, insurance, online banking, and mortgage and commercial financing. This report looks at how -- or even if -- GMAC will be able to pay back the government for Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501973/
Financing the U.S. Trade Deficit
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. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503506/
Multilateral Development Banks: Overview and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and highlights major current issues for Congress. The first section discusses the history of the MDBs, their operations, major donor contributions, their organization, and debates about the effectiveness of MDB financial assistance. The second section discusses issues of particular interest to Congress, including congressional legislation authorizing and appropriating U.S. contributions to the MDBs, congressional oversight of the MDBs, and U.S. commercial interests in the MDBs. It also discusses recent proposals for increasing the voting power of emerging-markets at the World Bank. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503351/
The Global Financial Crisis: Analysis and Policy Implications
This report provides a historical account and analysis of the crisis through September 25, 2009. While business contraction appears to have abated, unemployment is shown to be on the rise and many businesses and countries are still facing difficulties. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503355/
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/metadc503688/
Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions
This report provides an overview of monetary policy and recent developments. It discusses issues for Congress, including transparency and proposals to change the Fed's mandate, and ends with a brief overview of the Fed's regulatory responsibilities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503675/
Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt
This report presents current data on estimated ownership of U.S. Treasury securities and major holders of federal debt by country. Federal debt represents the accumulated balance of borrowing by the federal government. To finance federal borrowing, U.S. Treasury securities are sold to investors, directly from the Treasury or on the secondary market to individual private investors, financial institutions in the United States or overseas, and foreign, state, or local governments. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc503401/