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The Future Role of U.S. Trade Policy: An Overview

Description: The United States has become increasingly integrated with the rest of the world economy. This integration has offered benefits and presented challenges to U.S. business, agriculture, labor, and consumers. Those who can compete in the more integrated economy have enjoyed opportunities to broaden their success, while those who are challenged by increased foreign competition have been forced to adjust and some have exited the market or relocated overseas. Some observers contend that, in order to remain globally competitive, the United States must continue to support trade liberalization policies, while assisting those hurt by trade. Others have raised doubts over whether free trade policies benefit the U.S. economy. This report provides an overview and background on the debate over the future course of U.S. trade policy.
Date: July 14, 2008
Creator: Morrison, Wayne M. & Cooper, William M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Enron Loophole

Description: The Commodity Exchange Act exempts certain energy derivatives contracts from regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). These exemptions are popularly known as the "Enron loophole." Soaring energy prices have raised concerns about whether the CFTC has enough information about these unregulated markets to monitor energy trading in a comprehensive manner. A number of other bills in the 110th Congress would impose new reporting or regulatory requirements on the bilateral energy swaps market, which was not addressed by the Farm Bill.
Date: July 7, 2008
Creator: Jickling, Mark
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Currency Manipulation: The IMF and WTO

Description: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO) approach the issue of "currency manipulation" differently. The IMF Articles of Agreement prohibit countries from manipulating their currency for the purpose of gaining unfair trade advantage, but the IMF cannot force a country to change its exchange rate policies. The WTO has rules against subsidies, but these are very narrow and specific and do not seem to encompass currency manipulation. Several options might be considered for addressing this matter in the future, if policymakers deem this a wise course of action.
Date: May 8, 2008
Creator: Sanford, Jonathan E.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative

Description: In Juen 2005, G8 finance ministers proposed the new Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The MDRI proposes to cancel debts of some of the world's poorest countries owed to the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and African Development Bank. This report discusses MDRI's implementation and raises some issues regarding debt relief's effectiveness as a form of foreign assistance for possible congressional consideration.
Date: April 1, 2008
Creator: Weiss, Martin A.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

National Flood Insurance Program: Treasury Borrowing in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Description: In 2008, Hurricanes Ike, Gustav, and Dolly made landfall in the United States, causing widespread flood damage. Exactly three years earlier, claims and expenses related to the massive flooding caused by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma had financially overwhelmed the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that the NFIP will need about $3 billion in additional borrowing authority to cover the claims currently outstanding and a yet to be determined amount for the 2008 Hurricanes. Congress is currently working to reform the NFIP while retaining its original intent to keep rates affordable for people to buy the insurance.
Date: September 19, 2008
Creator: King, Rawle O.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Pattern of Interest Rates: Does it Signal an Impending Recession?

Description: The cyclical behavior of the economy is of great interest to Congress, yet the onset of an economic downturn is seldom recognized promptly. Policymakers frequently search for reliable recession predictors. The behavior of interest rates may provide advanced warning of an impending downturn. The easing of monetary policy in evidence since September 2007 is consistent with efforts to forestall or minimize an economic downturn. Economic growth has been low since the last quarter of 2007, and some forecasters are now predicting a recession in 2008.
Date: May 5, 2008
Creator: Labonte, Marc & Makinen, Gail
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

U.S. Trade Deficit and the Impact of Rising Oil Prices

Description: Petroleum prices rose sharply in the first half of 2008, at one time reaching more than $140 per barrel of crude oil. Since July, however, petroleum prices and import volumes have fallen at a historically rapid pace; in November, prices of crude oil fell below $55 per barrel. The fall in the cost of energy imports combined with the drop in import volumes as a result of the slowdown in economic activity has reversed the trend of rising energy imports costs and will sharply reduce the overall costs of U.S. energy imports for the rest of 2008. This report provides an estimate of the initial impact of the rising oil prices on the nation's merchandise trade deficit.
Date: November 13, 2008
Creator: Jackson, James K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: An Economic Analysis

Description: Foreign direct investment in the United States1 declined sharply after 2000, when a record $300 billion was invested in U.S. businesses and real estate. In 2007, according to Department of Commerce data, foreigners invested $237 billion. Foreign direct investments are highly sought after by many State and local governments that are struggling to create additional jobs in their localities. While some in Congress encourage such investment to offset the perceived negative economic effects of U.S. firms investing abroad, others are concerned about foreign acquisitions of U.S. firms that are considered essential to U.S. national and economic security.
Date: August 15, 2008
Creator: Jackson, James K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

China's Currency: A Summary of the Economic Issues

Description: Many Members of Congress charge that China's policy of accumulating foreign reserves (especially U.S. dollars) to influence the value of its currency constitutes a form of currency manipulation intended to make its exports cheaper and imports into China more expensive than they would be under free market conditions. Although China made modest reforms to its currency policy in 2005, Members contend the forms have not gone far enough and have warned of potential legislative action. This report summarizes the main findings CRS Report RL32165, China's Currency: Economic Issues and Options for U.S. Trade Policy.
Date: November 20, 2008
Creator: Morrison, Wayne M. & Labonte, Marc
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

China's Currency: A Summary of the Economic Issues

Description: Many Members of Congress charge that China's policy of accumulating foreign reserves (especially U.S. dollars) to influence the value of its currency constitutes a form of currency manipulation intended to make its exports cheaper and imports into China more expensive than they would be under free market conditions. Although China made modest reforms to its currency policy in 2005, Members contend the forms have not gone far enough and have warned of potential legislative action. This report summarizes the main findings CRS Report RL32165, China's Currency: Economic Issues and Options for U.S. Trade Policy.
Date: May 8, 2008
Creator: Morrison, Wayne M. & Labonte, Marc
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Regulation of Energy Derivatives

Description: After the collapse of Enron Corp. in late 2001, that company's activities came under intense scrutiny. Much of its business consisted of trading financial contracts whose value was derived from changes in energy prices. Enron's derivatives trading was largely "over-the-counter" (OTC) and unregulated: little information about transactions was available. This incident has sparked interest in reform of energy derivatives regulation. This report summarizes energy derivatives regulation and proposed legislation.
Date: May 12, 2008
Creator: Jickling, Mark
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Description: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several permanently authorized programs to help farmers recover financially from a natural disaster, including federal crop insurance, the noninsured assistance program (NAP), and emergency disaster loans. This report outlines the various agricultural disaster assistance appropriations included in the FY2007 Iraq war supplemental appropriations act; the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; the 2008 farm bill; and the FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations Act.
Date: July 3, 2008
Creator: Chite, Ralph M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues

Description: The United States is the largest investor abroad and the largest recipient of direct investment in the world. Some observers believe U.S. firms invest abroad to avoid U.S. labor unions or high U.S. wages, however, 70% of U.S. foreign direct investment is concentrated in high income developed countries. Even more striking is the fact that the share of investment going to developing countries has fallen in recent years. Most economists conclude that direct investment abroad does not lead to fewer jobs or lower incomes overall for Americans and that the majority of jobs lost among U.S. manufacturing firms over the past decade reflect a broad restructuring of U.S. manufacturing industries.
Date: August 15, 2008
Creator: Jackson, James K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Multilateral Development Banks: U.S. Contributions FY1998-2009

Description: 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. It will be updated periodically. Three companion reports provide further information on the MDBs. See CRS Report RS20793, Multilateral Development Banks: Basic Background, CRS Report RS20791, Multilateral Development Banks: Procedures for U.S. Participation, and CRS Report RS22134 International Financial Institutions: Funding U.S. Participation.
Date: August 8, 2008
Creator: Sanford, Jonathan E.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Federal Reserve Interest Rate Changes: 2001-2008

Description: The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided at its scheduled meeting held on October 29 to lower the target rate for federal funds to 1% from 1½% set at its unscheduled meeting of October 8, 2008. In making its decision to reduce the target, the FOMC stressed the following factors: (1) the pace of economic growth appears to have slowed markedly owing importantly to a softening of consumer spending; (2) business equipment spending and industrial production have weakened; (3) economic slowdowns abroad have dampened the prospects for U.S. exports; (4) intensified strains in financial markets are also likely to further reduce spending; and (5) inflation prospects have improved due to declines in energy and other commodity prices. The next schedule meeting of the FOMC is set for December 11, 2008.
Date: October 29, 2008
Creator: Labonte, Marc & Makinen, Gail E.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation: Background and Legislative Issues

Description: This report outlines challenges faced by Tajikistan since its five-year civil war ended in 1997. It discusses U.S. policy and assistance. Basic facts and biographical information are provided. This report may be updated. Related products include CRS Report RL33458, Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, updated regularly.
Date: May 22, 2008
Creator: Langton, Danielle
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation: Background and Legislative Issues

Description: The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)1 was established in 1969 and began operations in 1971 to promote and assist U.S. business investment in developing nations. OPIC is a U.S. government agency that provides project financing, investment insurance, and other services for U.S. businesses in 154 developing nations and emerging economies. OPIC is currently authorized through March 9, 2009 under the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 110-329).
Date: October 20, 2008
Creator: Langton, Danielle
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Statutory Offices of Inspector General: Past and Present

Description: Statutory offices of inspector general (OIG) consolidate responsibility for audits and investigations within a federal agency. Established by public law as permanent, nonpartisan, independent offices, they now exist in more than 60 establishments and entities, including all departments and largest agencies, along with numerous boards and commissions. Various initiatives and proposals in the 110th Congress are designed to strengthen the IGs' independence, add to their reports, and create new posts in the Intelligence Community.
Date: September 25, 2008
Creator: Kaiser, Frederick M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Description: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several permanently authorized programs to help farmers recover financially from a natural disaster, including federal crop insurance, the noninsured assistance program, and emergency disaster loans. Since 1988, Congress regularly has made supplemental financial assistance available to farmers and ranchers, primarily in the form of crop disaster payments and emergency livestock assistance. The Senate-passed version of a pending FY2006 supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 4939) contains an adopted committee amendment that would provide an estimated additional $3.9 billion in various forms of farm assistance, including payments for major crop and livestock losses caused by any 2005 disaster, such as the drought in portions of the Midwest and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf.
Date: May 8, 2006
Creator: Chite, Ralph M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment

Description: The proposed acquisition of major operations in six major U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World and of Unocal by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation sparked intense concerns among some Members of Congress and the public and has reignited the debate over what role foreign acquisitions play in U.S. national security. The United States actively promotes internationally the national treatment of foreign firms. Several Members of Congress have introduced various measures during the 2nd Session of the 109th Congress that can be grouped into four major areas: those that deal specifically with the proposed Dubai Ports World acquisition; those that focus more generally on foreign ownership of U.S. ports; those that would amend the CFIUS process; and those that would amend the Exon-Florio process.
Date: June 15, 2006
Creator: Jackson, James K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment

Description: The United States actively promotes internationally the national treatment of foreign firms. Some Members of Congress and others are concerned with this policy, however, particularly with how it applies to allowing government-owned companies unlimited access to the Nation's industrial base. Much of this debate focuses on the activities of a relatively obscure committee, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the Exon-Florio provision, which gives the President broad powers to block certain types of foreign investment. Several Members of Congress have introduced various measures during the 2nd Session of the 109th Congress regarding this ongoing policy debate.
Date: July 28, 2006
Creator: Jackson, James K.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Commodity Futures Modernization Act (P.L. 106-554)

Description: The last act of the 106th Congress was to pass an omnibus bill that included the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (H.R. 5660; P.L. 106-554), the most significant amendments to the regulation of derivatives trading in 25 years. Derivative financial instruments are those that gain or lose value as some underlying rate, price, or other economic variable changes. The 106th Congress approved an overhaul of derivatives regulation which codified the unregulated status of certain derivatives, permitted the exemption of other currently-regulated contracts from oversight by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and permitted the trading of a new kind of contract: a futures contract/security hybrid based on the stocks of individual corporation.
Date: February 3, 2003
Creator: Jickling, Mark
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Campaign Finance Reform: A Legal Analysis of Issue and Express Advocacy

Description: Issue advocacy communications have become increasingly popular in recent federal election cycles. These advertisements are often interpreted to favor or disfavor certain candidates, while also serving to inform the public about a policy issue. However, unlike communications that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, the Supreme Court has determined that issue ads are constitutionally protected First Amendment speech that cannot be regulated in any manner. According to most lower court rulings, only speech containing express words of advocacy of election or defeat, also known as "express advocacy" or "magic words" can be regulated as election-related communications and therefore be subject to the requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Upcoming legislation would further investigate and elaborate upon this issue.
Date: July 10, 2001
Creator: Whitaker, L. Paige
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

527 Organizations: How the Differences in Tax and Election Laws Permit Certain Organizations to Engage in Issue Advocacy without Public Disclosure and Proposals for Change

Description: Virtually all political organizations are "section 527" political organizations, which means that they are tax-exempt. 527 organizations are created to influence the election or defeat of public officials. This report compares the tax and election laws relating to political organizations and political committees prior to the enactment of P.L. 106-230 in an attempt to highlight the differences between them, and discusses some of the proposals in the 106th Congress to require additional reporting by organizations engaging in political activities. This report does not address the taxation of other tax-exempt organizations making political expenditures taxable under IRC § 527.
Date: September 7, 2000
Creator: Morris, Marie B.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department