Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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The Depreciating Dollar: Economic Effects and Policy Response
This report discusses the trend of depreciation of the dollar since 2002. This raises concern among some in Congress and the public that the dollar's decline is a symptom of broader economic problems, such as a weak economic recovery, rising public debt, and a diminished standing in the global economy. However, a falling currency is not always a problem, but possibly an element of economic adjustments that are, on balance, beneficial to the economy.
Conflicts of Interest in Derivatives Clearing
This report examines how conflicts of interest may arise regarding derivatives clearing and analyzes the measures that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed to address them. It discusses what effect, if any, ownership and control limits may have on derivatives clearing; and whether such limits effectively address the types of conflicts of interest that are of concern to some in the 112th Congress. These rulemakings may interest the 112th Congress as part of its oversight authority for the CFTC and SEC. Trends in clearing and trading derivatives, and the ownership of swap clearinghouses, are discussed in the Appendix.
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.
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.
U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues
Report that provides a brief overview of how foreign investments can affect the U.S.
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.
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.
Greece's Debt Crisis: Overview, Policy Responses, and Implications
This report provides an overview of the Greek debt 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.
Greece's Debt Crisis: Overview, Policy Responses, and Implications
This report provides an overview of the Greek debt 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.
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.
International Investment Agreements (IIAs): Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers frequently asked questions about international investment agreements (IIAs) made between the United States and other countries. Questions are categorized in three main areas: background and context; U.S. international investment agreements; and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).
International Investment Agreements (IIAs): Frequently Asked Questions
This report answers frequently asked questions about international investment agreements (IIAs) made between the United States and other countries. Questions are categorized in three main areas: background and context; U.S. international investment agreements; and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).
The Greek Debt Crisis: Overview and Implications for the United States
This report provides a brief overview of the Greek dept crisis, including developments through July 2015 when questions about Greece's future in the Eurozone resurfaced and emergency negotiations resulted in a third financial assistance program for Greece. It also discusses potential implications of the crisis for the U.S. economy and U.S.-European cooperation on broader strategic and economic cooperation.
Crisis in Greece: Political Implications
This report discusses political and economic conditions in Greece. What began as a debt crisis in Greece in late 2009 has evolved into a political crisis that many analysts believe could represent the most significant setback in over 60 years of European integration.
Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's Financial Status: Frequently Asked Questions
Report that presents the major issues surrounding Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's financial conditions as well as various public policy options under discussion.
Greece's Debt Crisis: Overview, Policy Responses, and Implications
This report covers the sovereign debt crisis currently faced by the Eurozone which has culminated with Greece, which is at the center of the crisis, Ireland, and Portugal borrowing money from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to avoid default. Topics covered include: the build-up of Greece's debt crisis, policy responses with limited success, and broader implications. Specific issues for Congress include how the U.S. economy and banking industry will be affect by these recent events.
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.
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.
U.S. Capital Markets and International Accounting Standards: GAAP Versus IFRS
This report briefly explains the different accounting standards and U.S. capital markets. It examines several International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) policy options Congress might consider and the benefits and challenges of each of those options.
Crisis in Greece: Political Implications
This report briefly discusses the political crisis resulting from what began as a debt crisis in Greece in late 2009. Many analysts believe that this political crisis could represent the most significant setback in over 60 years of European integration.
Financial Market Supervision: Canada's Perspective
This report presents an overview of Canada's financial system and its supervisory framework and draws some distinctions between that system and the current U.S. framework.
Efforts to Delay the Gradual Elimination of Flood Insurance Premium Subsidies
This report examines legislative efforts in Congress to delay the gradual phase-out of subsidized flood insurance premiums, which is required under Sections 100205 and 100207 of P.L. 112-141, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2012. This new law extended the authorization for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years, through September 30, 2017, while requiring significant program reforms affecting flood insurance, flood hazard mapping, and floodplains management.
The National Flood Insurance Program: Status and Remaining Issues for Congress
This report provides an analysis of flood risk management, summarizes major challenges facing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and outlines key reforms in the recently enacted Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The report also identifies and presents some key remaining flood management issues for congressional considerations, and it concludes with a discussion of relevant policy options for the future financial management of flood hazards in the United States.
The SBA Disaster Loan Program: Overview and Possible Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the Disaster Loan Program, discusses how disaster declarations trigger the SBA loan process, explains the different types of loans potentially available to disaster victims, and discusses terms and restrictions related to each type of loan. The report also explains the SBA disaster loan application process and provides national data on SBA loans from 2000 to 2009, including data related to the Gulf Coast hurricanes since 2005.
Clean Coal Loan Guarantees and Tax Incentives: Issues in Brief
This report discusses certain federal financial incentive mechanisms for "clean coal" commercial projects; namely, loan guarantees and tax incentives. At issue for Congress is the extent to which the private sector has used these financial toolsto develop the technology needed for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while continuing to use available domestic coal reserves for electricity generation.
Dark Pools in Equity Trading: Policy Concerns and Recent Developments
This report examines the confluence of factors that led to the rise of dark pools; the potential benefits and costs of such trading; some regulatory and congressional concerns over dark pools; recent regulatory developments by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which oversees broker-dealers; and some recent lawsuits and enforcement actions garnering significant media attention.
Terrorism Risk Insurance: Issue Analysis and Overview of Current Program
This report discusses the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA). TRIA created a temporary three-year Terrorism Insurance Program in which the government would share some of the losses with private insurers should a foreign terrorist attack occur.
Social Security: The Trust Fund
This report covers how the Social Security program is financed and how the Social Security trust fund works.
Multilateral Development Banks: U.S. Contributions FY2000-FY2015
This report shows in tabular form how much the Administration requested and how much Congress appropriated for U.S. payments to the multilateral development banks (MDBs) since 2000. It also provides a brief description of the MDBs and the ways they fund their operations.
Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2015 Appropriations
This report discusses the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies.
China's Recent Stock Market Volatility: What Are the Implications?
China's two main stock markets, the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE), experienced rapid price increases from about mid-2014 to mid-2015. However, from June 12 to July 7, 2015, the Shanghai and Shenzhen Composite Indices fell by 32% and 40%, respectively. This report briefly examines this volatility and the Chinese government's response.
Designation of Global 'Too Big To Fail' Firms
This report provides background on the the Financial Stability Board's (FSB) designation process for systemically significant financial institutions, but takes no position on any potential benefits or shortcomings of that process.
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
This report discusses a new development bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), launched by China that is posing a challenge to U.S. policymakers.
Multilateral Development Banks: U.S. Contributions FY2000-FY2015
This report shows in tabular form how much the Administration requested and how much Congress appropriated for U.S. payments to the multilateral development banks (MDBs) since 2000. It also provides a brief description of the MDBs and the ways they fund their operations.
Financial Market Supervision: European Perspectives
This report addresses the European perspectives on a number of proposals that are being advanced for financial oversight and regulation in Europe. The European experience may be instructive because financial markets in Europe are well developed, European firms often are competitors of U.S. firms, and European governments have faced severe problems of integration and consistency across the various financial structures that exist in Europe.
Multilateral Development Banks: U.S. Contributions FY1998-FY2009
This report shows in tabular form how much the Administration requested and how much Congress appropriated during the past 11 years for U.S. payments to the multilateral development banks (MDBs). It also provides a brief description of the MDBs and the ways they fund their operations.
War Bonds in the Second World War: A Model for a New Iraq/Afghanistan War Bond?
This report discusses the high costs of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have rekindled congressional interest in the concept of the sale of a Treasury security to help finance these war costs.
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.
Financial Market Supervision: European Perspectives
This report addresses the European perspectives on a number of proposals that are being advanced for financial oversight and regulation in Europe. The European experience may be instructive because financial markets in Europe are well developed, European firms often are competitors of U.S. firms, and European governments have faced severe problems of integration and consistency across the various financial structures that exist in Europe.
Overview of Commercial (Depository) Banking and Industry Conditions
This report begins with a general overview of the banking industry. It describes how banks facilitate the financial intermediation process as well as the associated financial risks. It also explains the market structure of the banking industry, referring primarily to the asset distribution. Next, this report summarizes profitability and lending activity levels in the banking industry. Particular attention is paid to metrics related to capitalization levels, asset performance, and earnings of depository banks.
Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) FY2017 Appropriations: Overview
This report discusses the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Department of the Treasury, the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the judiciary, the District of Columbia, and more than two dozen independent agencies.
Multilateral Development Banks: U.S. Contributions FY1998-FY2009
This report shows in tabular form how much the Administration requested and how much Congress appropriated during the past 11 years for U.S. payments to the multilateral development banks (MDBs). It also provides a brief description of the MDBs and the ways they fund their operations.