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Credit Card Minimum Payments

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.
Date: December 21, 2005
Creator: Smale, Pauline
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: November 29, 2005
Creator: Sanford, Jonathan E.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues

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.
Date: November 23, 2005
Creator: Monke, Jim
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

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

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.
Date: November 23, 2005
Creator: McCarthy, James E. & Parker, Larry
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Farm Credit System

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.
Date: November 23, 2005
Creator: Monke, Jim
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Accounting Problems at Fannie Mae

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 by as much as $12 billion, but the formal restatement of earnings is not expected before late 2006.
Date: November 15, 2005
Creator: Jickling, Mark
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Stock Options: The Accounting Issue and Its Consequences

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.
Date: November 15, 2005
Creator: Lyke, Bob & Shorter, Gary
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal Deposit Insurance Reform Legislation (Including Budgetary Implications)

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.
Date: November 9, 2005
Creator: Miles, Barbara L. & Jackson, William D.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Berne Union: An Overview

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.
Date: November 8, 2005
Creator: Jackson, James K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Employment-Related Issues in Bankruptcy

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.
Date: November 1, 2005
Creator: Jeweler, Robin
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Budget Reconciliation: Projections of Funding in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)

Description: In FY2005, six states faced the prospect of running out of federal funds in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This was the first time since the program’s creation in 1997 that multiple states faced such a shortfall. The shortfalls were avoided by the redistribution of funds from other states’ original SCHIP allotments that had not been spent by the end of the three-year period of availability. To address this, the reconciliation proposal approved by the Senate Finance Committee would reduce the period of availability for original allotments from three years to two.
Date: October 28, 2005
Creator: Peterson, Chris L.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Economic Effects of Raising National Saving

Description: Raising the share of income we save is a frequent aim of public policy. That may be particularly apparent in debates about the size of the federal budget deficit, but concerns about the low household saving rate have also prompted policymakers to consider ways to encourage individuals to save more. How much individuals save will directly affect their future economic well-being, but from a macroeconomic perspective, the source of saving — be it households, business, or government — makes no difference. This report presents standard economic analysis of the macroeconomic effects of raising saving.
Date: October 4, 2005
Creator: Cashell, Brian W.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Campaign Finance Reform: Regulating Political Communications on the Internet

Description: In October 2002, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) promulgated regulations exempting from the definition of “public communication” those communications that are made over the Internet. In response to the FEC’s final rules, the two primary House sponsors of BCRA filed suit in U.S. district court against the FEC seeking to invalidate the regulations as opening a new avenue for circumvention of federal campaign finance law. In September 2004, in Shays v. FEC, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia overturned some of the FEC’s new regulations. In response to the district court’s decision, in April 2005, the FEC published proposed new rules in order to conform to the Shays ruling. The proposed regulations reflect an attempt by the FEC to leave web logs, or “blogs,” created and wholly maintained by individuals, free of regulations under FECA, while extending limited regulation only to uses of the Internet involving substantial monetary transactions.
Date: September 20, 2005
Creator: Whitaker, L. Paige & Cantor, Joseph E.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

China and the CNOOC Bid for Unocal: Issues for Congress

Description: The bid by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to acquire the U.S. energy company Unocal for $18.5 billion raised many issues with U.S. policymakers. This report provides an overview and analysis of the CNOOC bid, U.S. interests, implications for U.S. energy security, U.S. investment in the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China’s) oil industry, the process for reviewing the security and other implications of foreign investment in the United States, Congressional activity, and a listing of unresolved issues.
Date: September 15, 2005
Creator: Nanto, Dick K.; Jackson, James K.; Morrison, Wayne M. & Kumins, Lawrence C.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department