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Campaign Finance Reform: A Legal Analysis of Issue and Express Advocacy
Issue advocacy communications have become increasingly popular over the federal election cycles. Often these advertisements could be 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 ruled that issue ads are constitutionally protected First Amendment speech and 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). Unlike express advocacy communications, therefore, issue ads may be paid for with funds unregulated by federal law, i.e., soft money
Federal Securities Law: Insider Trading
No Description Available.
Bankruptcy Reform in the 108th Congress
On March 19, 2003, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 975, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2003. H.R. 975, as introduced, was substantially similar to the legislation (H.R. 333) approved by both the House and the Senate during the 107th Congress, but omitted the Schumer Amendment which would have prevented the discharge of liability for willful violation of protective orders and violent protests against providers of “lawful services,” including reproductive health services. As passed by the House, H.R. 975 was amended to add sections to, among other things, increase the cap on wage and employee benefit claims. The Senate did not consider H.R. 975 during the first session of the 108th Congress. This report provides an overview of selected major provisions of the legislation.
Housing Issues in the 110th Congress
This report examines housing-related issues that have become prominent in the 110th Congress. Possibly the most visible issue is the prevalence of subprime loans and growing mortgage default and foreclosure rates. Congress has responded with numerous hearings and legislative proposals both to change the way in which the lending and home-buying industry is regulated and to assist borrowers who are facing default and foreclosure.
Corporate Accountability: Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: (P.L. 107-204)
The Act establishes a new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board which is to be supervised by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Act restricts accounting firms from performing a number of other services for the companies which they audit. The Act also requires new disclosures for public companies and the officers and directors of those companies.
The Argentine Financial Crisis: A Chronology of Events
Argentina’s current crisis resulted from a confluence of events, some external to Argentina’s policy process, others directly related to its political and economic choices. The following is a summary of these events from before Argentina’s adoption of the currency board in 1991 to developments in early 2002.
The Argentine Financial Crisis: A Chronology of Events
Argentina’s current crisis resulted from a confluence of events, some external to Argentina’s policy process, others directly related to its political and economic choices. The following is a summary of these events from before Argentina’s adoption of the currency board in 1991 to developments in early 2002.
Agricultural Credit: Institutions and Issues
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.
Brazil's Economic Reform and the Global Financial Crisis
Despite backing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), capital flight from Brazil in 1998 prompted the government to jettison its pegged currency stabilization program and float the real on January 15, 1999, becoming another casualty of the volatile international capital markets. Brazil adjusted to its financial crisis faster than expected, which is considered over. This report provides a final summary of Brazil's financial crisis and related IMF assistance in support of Congressional interest in various aspects of the 1990s global financial turmoil. It will not be updated.
Electronic Banking: The Check Truncation Issue
If all checks were replaced by electronic transactions, the exact cost savings would still be unknown, because estimates of the cost of using a check and the number of checks written each year remain in dispute. Consequently, estimates of cost savings range from $1.4 billion annually for truncation alone to $68 billion for replacing checks with electronic payments. A significant part of the savings comes from eliminating the handling, sorting, and physically transporting of checks to the paying bank. To clear checks electronically, banks must negotiate processing agreements thatmake it unnecessary to physically present the paper check. Since the benefits are not uniformly dispersed among the participants, banks have found it difficult to obtain these agreements, thus constraining the widespread adoption of electronic check clearing.
Electronic Banking: The Check Truncation Issue
If all checks were replaced by electronic transactions, the exact cost savings would still be unknown, because estimates of the cost of using a check and the number of checks written each year remain in dispute. Consequently, estimates of cost savings range from $1.4 billion annually for truncation alone to $68 billion for replacing checks with electronic payments. A significant part of the savings comes from eliminating the handling, sorting, and physically transporting of checks to the paying bank. To clear checks electronically, banks must negotiate processing agreements thatmake it unnecessary to physically present the paper check. Since the benefits are not uniformly dispersed among the participants, banks have found it difficult to obtain these agreements, thus constraining the widespread adoption of electronic check clearing.
Electronic Banking: The Check Truncation Issue
If all checks were replaced by electronic transactions, the exact cost savings would still be unknown, because estimates of the cost of using a check and the number of checks written each year remain in dispute. Consequently, estimates of cost savings range from $1.4 billion annually for truncation alone to $68 billion for replacing checks with electronic payments. A significant part of the savings comes from eliminating the handling, sorting, and physically transporting of checks to the paying bank. To clear checks electronically, banks must negotiate processing agreements thatmake it unnecessary to physically present the paper check. Since the benefits are not uniformly dispersed among the participants, banks have found it difficult to obtain these agreements, thus constraining the widespread adoption of electronic check clearing.
The Enron Collapse: An Overview of Financial Issues
This report briefly examines the accounting system that failed to provide a clear picture of the firm’s true condition, the independent auditors and board members who were unwilling to challenge Enron’s management, the Wall Street stock analysts and bond raters who missed the trouble ahead, the rules governing employer stock in company pension plans, and the unregulated energy derivatives trading that was the core of Enron’s business. The report also describes related legislation that has received floor or committee action and will be updated regularly.
The Enron Collapse: An Overview of Financial Issues
This report briefly examines the accounting system that failed to provide a clear picture of the firm’s true condition, the independent auditors and board members who were unwilling to challenge Enron’s management, the Wall Street stock analysts and bond raters who missed the trouble ahead, the rules governing employer stock in company pension plans, and the unregulated energy derivatives trading that was the core of Enron’s business. The report also describes related legislation that has received floor or committee action and will be updated regularly.
The Enron Collapse: An Overview of Financial Issues
This report briefly examines the accounting system that failed to provide a clear picture of the firm’s true condition, the independent auditors and board members who were unwilling to challenge Enron’s management, the Wall Street stock analysts and bond raters who missed the trouble ahead, the rules governing employer stock in company pension plans, and the unregulated energy derivatives trading that was the core of Enron’s business. The report also describes related legislation that has received floor or committee action and will be updated regularly.
The Enron Collapse: An Overview of Financial Issues
This report briefly examines the accounting system that failed to provide a clear picture of the firm’s true condition, the independent auditors and board members who were unwilling to challenge Enron’s management, the Wall Street stock analysts and bond raters who missed the trouble ahead, the rules governing employer stock in company pension plans, and the unregulated energy derivatives trading that was the core of Enron’s business. The report also describes related legislation that has received floor or committee action and will be updated regularly.
The Enron Collapse: An Overview of Financial Issues
This report briefly examines the accounting system that failed to provide a clear picture of the firm’s true condition, the independent auditors and board members who were unwilling to challenge Enron’s management, the Wall Street stock analysts and bond raters who missed the trouble ahead, the rules governing employer stock in company pension plans, and the unregulated energy derivatives trading that was the core of Enron’s business. The report also describes related legislation that has received floor or committee action and will be updated regularly.
The Enron Collapse: An Overview of Financial Issues
This report briefly examines the accounting system that failed to provide a clear picture of the firm’s true condition, the independent auditors and board members who were unwilling to challenge Enron’s management, the Wall Street stock analysts and bond raters who missed the trouble ahead, the rules governing employer stock in company pension plans, and the unregulated energy derivatives trading that was the core of Enron’s business. The report also describes related legislation that has received floor or committee action and will be updated regularly.
Federal Credit Reform: Implementation Of the Changed Budgetary Treatment of Direct Loans and Loan Guarantees
This report explains the provisions of the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (FCRA), examine the implementation of credit reform including credit reform provisions of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA97), and discusses proposed modifications of credit reform. In order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to initially discuss justifications for credit programs, federal credit concepts, and the budgetary treatment of federal credit before the FCRA.
Understanding Mortgage Foreclosure: Recent Events, the Process, and Costs
This report provides a general analysis and overview of current foreclosure issues addressed in the bills cited above. It begins with a description of the behavior of aggregate foreclosure rates. The behaviors of foreclosure rates are placed in the context of activity in the housing and mortgage market to illustrate any relationships. The foreclosure process is then explained, first from the point of view of a traditional financial lending institution, and then from the viewpoint of securitization when loans are sold in secondary markets. Finally, this report collects information from other studies to obtain an estimate of the average foreclosure costs. A brief discussion of the effect uniform foreclosure legislation may have on costs follows.
Auditor Oversight: Proposals for New Regulator
This report provides basic background information on current regulation of auditors and summarizes alternatives now under consideration. Reforms proposed by Congress and the executive branch focus on oversight of the independent auditor, whose responsibility (in the broadest sense) is to certify that a corporation’s accounting statements reflect its true financial condition.
Credit Card Minimum Payments
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.
Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 113th Congress
This report discusses the legislation in the 113th Congress regarding insurance regulation. Among the insurance regulatory issues addressed by legislation in the 113th Congress are the application of federal orderly liquidation authority to insurers (addressed in H.R. 605); the supervision of some insurers by the Federal Reserve (addressed in H.R. 2140, H.R. 4510, H.R. 5461, S. 2102, and S. 2270); and the licensing of insurance agents and brokers (addressed in S. 534, S. 1926, S. 2244, H.R. 1155/H.R. 1064, and H.R. 4871).
Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 113th Congress
This report discusses the legislation in the 113th Congress regarding insurance regulation. Among the insurance regulatory issues addressed by legislation in the 113th Congress are the application of federal orderly liquidation authority to insurers (addressed in H.R. 605); the supervision of some insurers by the Federal Reserve (addressed in H.R. 2140, H.R. 4510, H.R. 5461, S. 2102, and S. 2270); and the licensing of insurance agents and brokers (addressed in S. 534, S. 1926, S. 2244, H.R. 1155/H.R. 1064, and H.R. 4871).
Annuities and the Securities and Exchange Commission Proposed Rule 151A
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently released a proposed rule that would effectively reclassify equity indexed annuities as a security product in addition to being an insurance product. This report presents the different types of annuities, explains the taxation of annuities, and disentangles the federal and state roles in the regulation of annuities. It outlines the proposed SEC rule and its current status.
Insurance Regulation: Issues, Background, and Legislation in the 111th Congress
This report discusses congressional and action on insurance regulation in the wake of the recent financial crisis. Although the financial crisis has changed the focus of the debate surrounding insurance regulatory reform, many of the pre-crisis pressures for regulatory changes continue.
Tax Gap: Proposals in the 110th Congress to Require Brokers to Report Basis on Publicly Traded Securities
Recent and projected large deficits and the need for revenue to offset spending or tax reduction proposals generated congressional and executive branch interest in different proposals to reduce the tax gap; and consequently, raise additional revenue. Proposals in the 110th Congress to require brokers to report adjusted basis on publicly traded securities sold by individuals are examined in this report.
Common Legal Questions and Answers Concerning Currency, Legal Tender and Money
This report answers common legal questions relating to currency, legal tender, and money.
H.R. 2415: Bankruptcy Reform in the Closing Days of the 106th Congress
No Description Available.
Export-Import Bank: Frequently Asked Questions
This report addresses frequently-asked questions about the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, grouped in the following categories: congressional interest and the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization debate; market context; international context; organizational structure and management; programs; statutory requirements and policies; risk management; budget and appropriations; implications of a sunset in authority; and historical and current approaches to reauthorization.
U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues
This report discusses issues regarding foreign investments and how that can affect the U.S.
U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues
This report provides a brief overview of how foreign investments can affect the U.S.
Export-Import Bank: Background and Legislative Issues
This report discusses the Export-Import Bank (Ex-In Bank), the chief U.S. government agency that helps finance American exports of manufactured goods and services with the objective of contributing to the employment of U.S. workers. This report discusses the Bank's budget and related legislation, including the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009, signed by President Barack Obama and authorizing spending limitations for the Bank.
Export-Import Bank: Background and Legislative Issues
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank, EXIM Bank, or the Bank), an independent federal government agency, is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the United States. It helps finance U.S. exports of manufactured goods and services, with the objective of contributing to the employment of U.S. workers, primarily in circumstances when alternative financing is not available. Members of the 112th Congress may examine issues related to the Ex-Im Bank that center on the economic rationale for the Bank; the impact of the Bank on the federal budget and U.S. taxpayers; the Bank's support for specific types of business or industries; the current balance between the Bank's advancement of U.S. commercial interests and other U.S. policy goals; the competitive position of the Bank compared to foreign ECAs; and the Bank's organizational structure.
Export-Import Bank: Background and Legislative Issues
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), an independent federal government agency, is the official export credit agency of the United States. It helps finance American exports of manufactured goods and services, with the objective of contributing to the employment of U.S. workers, primarily in circumstances when alternative financing is not available. Ex-Im Bank also may assist U.S. exporters to meet foreign, officially sponsored, export credit competition. Ex-Im Bank's main programs are direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees, and export credit insurance. Ex-Im Bank transactions are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The Bank operates under a renewable charter, the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, which requires that all of the Bank's financing have a reasonable assurance of repayment and directs the Bank to supplement, and to not compete with, private capital.
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.
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.
The Federal Debt: Who Bears Its Burdens?
This report discusses the federal debt, which quintupled from FY1980 to FY1995 and went from 26% to 50% of GDP. The report examines changing ideas in regards to what segment of the population most feels the effects of growing government debt, and how its effects manifest.
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.
Islamic Finance: Overview and Policy Concerns
The international market for Islamic finance has grown between 10% to 15% annually in recent years. Islamic finance historically has been concentrated in the Persian Gulf countries, but has expanded globally to both Muslim and non-Muslim countries. There is a small but growing market for Islamic finance in the United States. Through international and domestic regulatory bodies, there has been effort to standardize regulations in Islamic finance across different countries and financial institutions, although challenges remain. Critics of Islamic finance express concerns about possible ties between Islamic finance and political agendas or terrorist financing and the use of Islamic finance to circumvent U.S. economic sanctions. Proponents argue that Islamic finance presents significant new business opportunities and provides alternate methods for capital formation and economic development.
The Financial CHOICE Act in the 115th Congress: Selected Policy Issues
This report highlights major proposals included in the Financial CHOICE Act (FCA) but is not a comprehensive summary. In general, the bill proposes changes that can be divided into two categories: (1) changes to financial policies and regulations and (2) changes to the regulatory structure and rulemaking process. Major policy-related changes proposed by the FCA include the following: Leverage Ratio, Regulatory Relief, To Big To Fail, Funding, Rulemaking, Judicial Review, Enforcement, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the Federal Reserve.