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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
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.
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The Future of the Eurozone and U.S. Interests

The Future of the Eurozone and U.S. Interests

Date: January 17, 2012
Creator: Ahearn, Raymond J.
Description: Seventeen of the European Union's 27 member states share an economic and monetary union (EMU) with the euro as a single currency. These countries are effectively referred to as the Eurozone. What has become known as the Eurozone crisis began in early 2010 when financial markets were shaken by heightened concerns that the fiscal positions of a number of Eurozone countries, beginning with Greece, were unsustainable. This report provides background information and analysis on the future of the Eurozone in six parts, including discussions on the origins and design challenges of the Eurozone, proposals to define the Eurozone crisis, possible scenarios for the future of the Eurozone, and the implications of the Eurozone crisis for U.S. economic and political interests.
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Federal Aid to Roads and Highways Since the 18th Century: A Legislative History

Federal Aid to Roads and Highways Since the 18th Century: A Legislative History

Date: January 6, 2012
Creator: Williamson, John
Description: The federal government has provided aid for roads and highways since the establishment of the United States in 1789. This report comprises a brief history of such aid, detailing some precedent setters and more recent funding through the Highway Trust Fund, which was created in 1956.
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Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank: Issues and Policy Options for Congress

Reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank: Issues and Policy Options for Congress

Date: January 1, 2012
Creator: Ilias, Shayerah
Description: 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.
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Globalization, Worker Insecurity, and Policy Approaches

Globalization, Worker Insecurity, and Policy Approaches

Date: December 22, 2011
Creator: Ahearn, Raymond J.
Description: Today's global economy, or what many call globalization, has a growing impact on the economic futures of American companies, workers, and families. The current wave of globalization is supported by three broad trends: technology, increase in world supply of labor, and reduced government policies to international trade and investment.
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Globalization, Worker Insecurity, and Policy Approaches

Globalization, Worker Insecurity, and Policy Approaches

Date: December 22, 2011
Creator: Ahearn, Raymond J.
Description: This report discusses the trends driving global economic integration, sources of worker insecurity and policy approaches. There appears to be a range of views on the merits of each of these policy approaches and the extent to which they can be designed and implemented in a way that would reduce worker insecurity without undermining the benefits of globalization.
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Financial Stability Oversight Council: A Framework to Mitigate Systemic Risk

Financial Stability Oversight Council: A Framework to Mitigate Systemic Risk

Date: November 15, 2011
Creator: Murphy, Edward V.
Description: This report describes the mission, membership, and scope of the FSOC. It provides an analysis of several major policy issues related to the FSOC that may come before the 112th Congress. This report is intended to be used as a reference by congressional staff working on financial issues. The macroeconomic policy rationales for various financial crisis-related issues are summarized, and a glossary is provided to assist in understanding technical terms. This report is not intended to be read from cover to cover, but instead may be more useful as issues related to the FSOC arise.
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Finance and the Economy: Occupy Wall Street in Historical Perspective

Finance and the Economy: Occupy Wall Street in Historical Perspective

Date: November 14, 2011
Creator: Jickling, Mark
Description: This report presents examples of political statements about the fundamental costs and benefits of finance and recent economic research that points to aspects of financial activity that may not be advantageous to the real economy. The report does not attempt a comprehensive survey of either literature, but provides a reminder of the breadth of the historical debates that have shaped congressional oversight of financial institutions and markets.
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