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  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Iran and the P5+1 countries are expected to issue a joint statement today that outlines most aspects of a comprehensive nuclear deal, but defers some still thorny issues to further talks A key remaining sticking point is Iran's demand for immediate and comprehensive lifting of sanctions, which the P5+1 cannot accept The United States is attempting to reassure nervous regional partners, such as Israel and Arab Gulf states, that the U.S. is not making too many concessions for the sake of a deal U.S. allies in the region are concerned that lifting sanctions, even if done gradually, will enable Iran to provide even more military and financial aid to the Assad regime in Syria, Shi'a militias in Iraq, and the Houthi movement in Yemen.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Yemen, Syria
  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: Despite the hyperbole surrounding it, the proposal to roll back the DoD budget plan for 2013-2017 by $260 billion, asserted by Defense Secretary Panetta last fall, doesn't amount to much of a reduction from recent spending levels – about 4 percent in real terms. The roll back does appear more significant when measured against the administration's earlier spending plans for 2013-2017. But that's only because those earlier plans had aimed to continue the real growth in the Pentagon's base budget that had been underway since 1998.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Government, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve has taken additional actions to make its monetary policy more transparent to markets. The latest moves include the release of FOMC members' expectatins for the federal funds rate at the end of each of the next few years and in the longer term. Another is an statement of strategy for meeting its dual mandates of price stability and full employment. Although the statement included an explicit target for inflation but not for unemployment, the equal weights given to each goal afford the Fed more discretion in setting monetary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: While Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and private subprime lenders have deservedly garnered the bulk of attention and blame for the mortgage crisis, other federal programs also distort our mortgage market and put taxpayers at risk of having to finance massive financial bailouts. The most prominent of these risky agencies is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Karl P. Sauvant, Jonathan Strauss
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Developing country sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) as players in the world foreign direct investment (FDI) market have received considerable attention. While outward FDI from emerging markets has indeed risen dramatically, that by SWFs has been negligible: their outward FDI stock is around US$ 100 billion (compared to a world FDI stock of US$ 20 trillion in 2010).
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Government, International Law, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Joshua T. White, Shuja Ali Malik
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) remain mired in an archaic century-old system of indirect governance that provides space in which militant movements have thrived. President Asif Ali Zardari recently announced the FATA Local Governance Regulation 2012, establishing a system of local councils in the troubled tribal region. Although the regulation is disappointingly vague, and retains the sweeping prerogatives of the central government, it appears to have been driven in part by the army's interest in building civilian governance capacity in conflict-torn areas. The governments of Pakistan and the United States, along with local and international stakeholders, should advocate for continuity of implementation, insist on party-based local council elections, encourage experimentation within the bounds of the regulation, link the new councils to existing development structures, press the government to articulate a longer-term political vision for the FATA, and be realistic about the necessity of the army's active involvement in shaping governance policy in the tribal areas.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Government, Islam, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Jarno limnéll
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Cybersecurity concerns everyone, and is everyone's responsibility. It is a genuine example of a society-wide security issue. The United States is ahead of Europe in discussing and integrating (military) cybersecurity into its foreign and security policies. For the US, the biggest challenges at the moment are: updating legal frameworks, creating cyber rules of engagement for the military, building cyber deterrence and clarifying the cybersecurity roles and responsibilities of government and private sector actors. Cooperation at national and international levels is integral to improving cybersecurity. This includes updating international and domestic legal frameworks to ensure that state actions are accountable, and to protect citizens from wanton strikes at critical infrastructure. Governments must hold private sector partners accountable, and through partnerships ensure that societal cybersecurity is not overshadowed by private interests – public-private partnerships have a crucial role to play in this.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Science and Technology, Terrorism, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The recent financial crisis was characterized by losses in nearly every type of investment vehicle. Yet no product has attracted as much attention as the subprime mortgage.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Hamish Nixon
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghans across different groups see the United States as a key party to the conflict whose direct participation in a peace process is crucial to its success, and therefore question the effectiveness of U.S. emphasis on an “Afghan-led” reconciliation strategy. The U.S. must engage directly in negotiating a settlement because of its control over the issue of withdrawal of NATO forces. The Taliban demand for full withdrawal prior to talks appears to be an opening position. A challenge will be linking a structure for drawdown to necessary steps by insurgents to allow a cessation of violence and prevent Afghanistan's use for terrorism. A settlement process will entail discussion of the composition and future of the Afghan National Security Forces, and the current “transition” strategy of a large army and expanding local defence initiatives will almost certainly need re-examining during such a process. The conflict is not only a struggle for power and resources; it is also a legitimacy crisis stemming from a system of power and patronage that feeds conflict. From this perspective, a settlement should address the concentration of powers in the presidency through incremental reform to appointments, elections, or farther-reaching changes to the structure of government over time. There is a tension between reform and using political appointments to accommodate power-sharing demands. A durable settlement will need to involve political and social agreements among Afghans taking into account the views of a range of stakeholders. To manage this tension, the intra-Afghan peace process should be oriented toward broad inclusion of non-combatants while balancing the secrecy required to make progress.
  • Topic: NATO, Government, National Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Taliban
  • Author: Pamela J. Perun, Patricia E. Dilley
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: Critics of the Social Security program are fond of disparaging it as a "Ponzi" scheme or as a redistributive transfer of income from the young to the old. Others go even further, labeling the Social Security trust fund as a fiction or claiming the program is bankrupt. Some also suggest that the government bonds held in the trust fund are mere IOUs. Still others say that the program's legal basis is ephemeral, subject to the whims of Congress.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Virginia M. Bouvier
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since the advent of Plan Colombia in 2000, U.S. policymakers have sought to help Colombian governments win their multiple wars against insurgents, drugs and terrorism. Conventional wisdom had suggested that pursuing these paths concurrently would lead to peace and security. Colombia today is farther from a peace settlement than it has been in years. With national elections scheduled for the first half of 2010 and presidential candidates yet to be defined, peace does not appear on the government's public policy agenda and it has yet to materialize as a campaign issue. Faith in a military victory appears deeply entrenched at a popular level. Illegal armed groups are retrenching and adapting to years of sustained military offensives and the increased capacity of Colombia's armed forces. While security indicators had largely improved, violence in major cities last year jumped sharply, and internal displacement has reached crisis proportions. Colombia's conflict is increasingly affecting the Andean neighborhood, sending hundreds of thousands of Colombians across the borders. Patterns of violence and intimidation are emerging as illegal armed groups increasingly settle into these border regions. Sporadic incursions and incidents at the border have ratcheted up rhetoric and sparked diplomatic standoffs and movement of troops. A recent bilateral military accord between Colombia and the United States has also exacerbated tensions in the hemisphere. Policymakers increasingly question whether staying the course in Colombia is in the U.S. best interests. Some are calling for an overhaul of U.S. policy. Peace and regional security are integral to the multitude of U.S. interests in Colombia, and they should no longer be subsumed to other strategic interests. It is time to seek peace as a priority. This approach should emphasize respect for human rights and the rule of law; support for truth, justice and reparations for the victims of armed conflict; and the facilitation of processes conducive to peace as a key policy objective.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Ronald Hamowy
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: Prior to World War I, the federal government effectively provided no hospital or medical care to veterans other than extending domiciliary care to a few veterans disabled while in service. With American entry into World War I, however, it was decided to extend the treatment accorded members of the armed forces who were receiving hospital care after they had been mustered out. As a consequence the Veterans Bureau was created in 1921. In 1930 a new agency, the Veterans Administration (VA), took over responsibility for all veterans\' affairs. Following World War II and the passage of a comprehensive GI Bill that included generous medical and hospital care for returning soldiers, the VA rapidly expanded to the point whereby it established itself as the largest supplier of health care in the nation. For most of the period since the end of World War II these medical facilities were plagued by waste, poor management, and negligence. While it is true that conditions at VA facilities have improved since the late 1980s, they still lag behind those that obtain at the nation\'s voluntary hospitals. The shift from inpatient to ambulatory care, an increase in chronic care needs in an aging population, and increases in the demand for medical services as a result of the most recent Middle Eastern conflicts clearly undermines the reason originally put forward to operate a direct health care system. However, given the pressures put upon Congress by the American Legion and other veterans groups, it is unlikely that the United States will follow the lead of the governments of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom and close or convert their hospitals to other uses and integrate the treatment of veterans into the general heath-care system.Prior to World War I, the federal government effectively provided no hospital or medical care to veterans other than extending domiciliary care to a few veterans disabled while in service. With American entry into World War I, however, it was decided to extend the treatment accorded members of the armed forces who were receiving hospital care after they had been mustered out. As a consequence the Veterans Bureau was created in 1921. In 1930 a new agency, the Veterans Administration (VA), took over responsibility for all veterans\' affairs. Following World War II and the passage of a comprehensive GI Bill that included generous medical and hospital care for returning soldiers, the VA rapidly expanded to the point whereby it established itself as the largest supplier of health care in the nation. For most of the period since the end of World War II these medical facilities were plagued by waste, poor management, and negligence. While it is true that conditions at VA facilities have improved since the late 1980s, they still lag behind those that obtain at the nation\'s voluntary hospitals. The shift from inpatient to ambulatory care, an increase in chronic care needs in an aging population, and increases in the demand for medical services as a result of the most recent Middle Eastern conflicts clearly undermines the reason originally put forward to operate a direct health care system. However, given the pressures put upon Congress by the American Legion and other veterans groups, it is unlikely that the United States will follow the lead of the governments of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom and close or convert their hospitals to other uses and integrate the treatment of veterans into the general heath-care system.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Arabia, Australia
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Earth Day was a big event this year. Sting sang on the Mall here in Washington. The citizens of Qatar turned off their power for an hour. The U.S. Navy rolled out its new biodiesel-fueled Green Hornet fighter jet. Okay, maybe the Earth was not so impressed with all the events held in its honor.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Corruption, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, East Asia
  • Author: Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Recently, the Federal Reserve has significantly altered the procedures and goals that it had followed for decades. It has more than doubled its balance sheet, paid interest to banks on reserves held as deposits with the Fed, made decisions about which institutions to prop up and which should be allowed to fail, invested in assets that expose taxpayers to large losses, and raised questions about how it will avoid inflation despite an unprecedented increase in the monetary base.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ronald Hamowy
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: There is strong evidence that the spectacular growth in the size of the federal government is a result of its expansion following one crisis or another, either real or imagined. After the crisis it gains new powers that become the norm for the next stage of growth. The Food and Drug Administration provides a particularly apt example of this increase in powers as a response to a series of crises, each of which has increased the regulatory authority of the agency. The Food and Drug Administration, which did not even exist before the twentieth century, now possesses massive regulatory powers over products that account for no less than twenty-five cents of every dollar spent by the American consumer, totaling well over $1 trillion annually. Historical investigation shows that the agency has been able to take advantage of several perceived crises, the combined effect of which was to increase its authority to determine what Americans ingest to the point where today, at least in the case of drugs, it is the agency—and not the consumer—that determines when and what is available. A regulatory agency originally established to ensure that consumers would be provided with full and accurate information on the drugs available to them has become one that determines which drugs are available, when they might be administered, and who may ingest them. This essay traces this growth in terms of the legislative reaction to three crises, the diphtheria antitoxin crisis of 1901, the sulfanilamide crisis of 1937, and the thalidomide crisis of 1960.
  • Topic: Government, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The institution of Iraq's prime minister has evolved since the previous national government was formed in 2006. The success of incumbent Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki in building an independent power base around the office and the diminishing U.S. presence in Iraq have transformed the perception and stature of Iraq's chief executive. This evolution of the position helps to explain why negotiations over the government's formation have struggled to move beyond the top post to discuss other assignments and the new government's agenda. The talks are not just about agreeing on a prime minister in the context of inconclusive, close election results, and competing regional influences; these talks are trying to define the role of the premiership and possible checks on its power. Understanding the debate on possible checks and balances is important because of its potential ramifications for Iraq's democratic experiment, and also because agreement on this issue might pave the way for the nomination of a prime minister.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On May 31, 2010 a majority of the Lower House of the National Diet of Japan approved legislation that would reverse a decade's worth of effort to fully privatize key subsidiaries of Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. Besides postal services, the state-run postal system offers banking and insurance services, through Japan Post Bank (JPB) and Japan Post Insurance (JPI), respectively. These are the financial engines of Japan Post and were the units slated for privatization. Both subsidiaries have long received favorable government treatment, tilting the playing field against private banks and insurance firms, whether foreign or domestic. The government of Japan is in clear violation of its commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and if the Upper House approves the legislation, Japan will reverse the efforts made by the United States and the European Union, as well as domestic private banks and insurance firms, to establish a level playing field. What's more, Japan risks having a formal WTO dispute brought against it.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe
  • Author: Trevor Houser
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On May 12, 2010, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) released details of their proposed American Power Act, a comprehensive energy and climate change bill developed over the preceding nine months by the two senators, chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees respectively, along with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).1 With US unemployment just below 10 percent and the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig's ruptured well pouring thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day, the senators promised that if passed the bill will: (1) reduce US oil consumption and dependence on oil imports; (2) cut US carbon pollution 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and over 80 percent by 2050; and (3) create jobs and restore US global economic leadership. In this policy brief we evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed American Power Act in achieving those goals.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: For nearly two weeks, the Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain has experienced near-daily disturbances following government arrests of opposition activists from the majority Shiite community. The timing of the arrests seemed geared toward preempting trouble in advance of the scheduled October 23 parliamentary and municipal elections, which minority Sunni parties and candidates are currently projected to win. The street violence and other incidents are of particular concern to the United States because Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command, whose mission is to "deter and counter disruptive countries" -- a wording likely aimed at Iran, which claimed the island as its territory prior to 1970.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In an August 2 speech, President Obama confirmed that regardless of the status of government formation in Iraq, the U.S. military remained committed to the withdrawal of all combat forces by the month's end. Meanwhile, Iraq is still struggling to form a government in the long wake of the March elections, and the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan -- when much political and business life slows almost to a standstill -- begins next week. If an Iraqi government does not form fairly quickly after Ramadan ends in mid-September, Iraq's political scene may worsen, including an increased risk for violence. Ramadan has always existed in Iraqi and U.S. minds as a break point, when a new government may finally come together. Failure to make progress during the month is thus likely to elicit at least mild panic amongst politicians and the public. So how might the deadlock be broken?
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Michael D. Nolan, Frédéric Sourgens
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: State-controlled entities (SCEs) are increasingly important participants in international investment flows and international trade. Cumulative FDI by sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) has reportedly reached US$100 billion. SWFs are significant equity investors in, and provide significant debt financing to, every kind of company, from professional sports franchises to container ports. In addition to the role of these funds, national oil companies are growing in regional and international importance. In many countries, other industries are also increasingly government-owned.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On January 28, 2009, the US House of Representatives passed its economic stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Out of the bill's 700 text pages, a small half-page section attracted enormous media attention: the section requiring that all public projects funded by the stimulus plan must use only iron and steel produced in the United States (box 1). Another provision, which drew less attention, extends the so-called Berry Amendment (an old Buy American provision) to uniforms purchased by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Government, Industrial Policy, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: It is generally believed that the United States is a country of low taxes and small government, at least when compared with countries in Europe (and until the financial crisis so greatly expanded the role of the federal government in the United States in late 2008). Fully accounting for the role, size, and effect of the government in an economy is a complex endeavor, however, and it is hardly accomplished by repeatedly restating differences in top marginal tax rates, overall tax burdens, or gross sizes of governments in GDP terms.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: While the U.S. and world economies are slowing markedly, Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a growth industry for the private sector. U.S. government employees may set SSR policy and design projects, but implementation is extensively outsourced to private contractors. With the forthcoming surge of U.S. military forces into Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has announced contracts worth $1.1 billion for the construction of military bases and training centers for Afghan military and police. Private firms supply everything from construction materials to trainers and administrative staff. Private contractors operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan are required to provide their own security. Up to 15 percent of the cost of construction will go to private security firms, which guard convoys, facilities and personnel.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Liz Panarelli
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: International actors in Security Sector Reform (SSR) are increasingly taking on roles as “advisors” to Ministries of Interior, Defense, and Justice. Rather than directly implement changes necessary for SSR, these advisors must persuasively articulate suggestions to their local counterparts. Advisors' success depends on their ability to convey recommendations in a manner that makes change acceptable to their advisees. Ministerial and governmental advising is not the exclusive purview of any one entity. Rather, advising is undertaken by a diverse range of individuals from U.S. and foreign governments, militaries, NGOs, private contractors, and U.N. agencies. These actors have correspondingly diverse objectives and approaches to SSR; without coordination or consensus on SSR programming, advisors may find themselves working at cross - purposes. Furthermore, the multiplicity of advisors and institutions makes sharing best practices and improving over time and across conflicts extremely difficult.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The administration has likened President Obama's high-speed rail plan to President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System. Yet there are crucial differences between interstate highways and high-speed rail. First, before Congress approved the Interstate Highway System, it had a good idea how much it would cost. In contrast, Congress approved $8 billion for high-speed rail without knowing the total cost, which is likely to be at least $90 billion.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The most hazardous health reform measure before Congress is not the so-called "public option," but proposals to make health insurance compulsory via an individual or employer mandate. Compulsory health insurance could require nearly 100 million Americans to switch to a more expensive health plan and would therefore violate President Barack Obama's pledge to let people keep their current health insurance. In particular, the legislation before Congress could eliminate many or all health savings account plans. Making health insurance compulsory would also spark an unnecessary fight over abortion and would enable government to ration care to those with private health insurance.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Martin Eling, Robert W. Klein, Joan T. Schmit
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: In this paper we compare insurance regulatory frameworks in the United States (US) and European Union (EU), focusing primarily on solvency, but also considering product and price regulation, as well as other elements of consumer protection. This comparison highlights the use of more fluid and principles-based approaches in the EU as it is developing under Solvency II, while the US continues to focus essentially on static, rules-based regulation. The discussion further notes evidence suggesting that the EU approach is more successful in promoting a financially solid insurance sector.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In October 1907, J. P. Morgan stemmed a financial panic by coercing other banks to join him in providing credit to Wall Street brokerage firms teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.[1] This year, over the weekend including March 15—the ominous Ides of March—James Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, was the one to act. With the Federal Reserve squarely behind him and assuming the risk, he prevented a Bear Stearns bankruptcy by agreeing to purchase the firm, providing it with a decent burial, at a price of $2 per share. Bear Stearns's stock had been valued at over $160 per share just a year ago. The $2 price virtually wiped out the value of that stock, one-third of which is owned by its 14,000 employees. This was clearly not a bailout for Bear Stearns shareholders, and whether or not the steps taken by the Fed on March 16 were sufficient to arrest a further collapse of available credit and the economy remains to be seen. As long as house prices keep falling, the underlying problem for credit markets and the economy remains.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The bursting of every bubble is followed by statements suggesting that the worst is over and that the real economy will be unharmed. The weeks since mid-March have been such a period in the United States. The underlying problem—a bust in the residential real-estate market—has, however, grown worse, with peak-to-trough estimates of the drop in home prices having gone from 20 to 30 percent in the span of just two months. Meanwhile, the attendant damage to the housing sector and to the balance sheets tied to it has grown worse and spread beyond the subprime subsector.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Douglas J. Besharov
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Finding that an op-ed by Michael Gerson poorly defined the conservative approach to social problems, Douglas J. Besharov outlined six principles that underlie the conservative position on government social programs. Besharov notes that being cautious about the possible ill effects of government intervention is not unique to conservatives. It is simply realistic to be skeptical about the federal government's ability to mitigate serious social welfare problems.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Amity Shlaes
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Democratic presidential candidates are invoking the New Deal as a model for addressing infrastructure, economic, and employment problems in the United States. But a careful look at New Deal spending suggests, in the words of Amity Shlaes, "not how much the public works achieved . . . [but] how little." Advocates for new federal government spending on highways, buildings, and roads should carefully weigh the need against the damage that comes from projects and jobs created for political reasons.
  • Topic: Government, Industrial Policy, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott Gottlieb
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Although John Edwards is no longer a presidential candidate, his attacks on the U.S. health care system will continue to resonate. As a candidate, he used the tragic case of Nataline Sarkisyan, who died while awaiting a liver transplant, as an indictment of the U.S. medical system and an argument for a European-style single-payer system. But AEI's Scott Gottlieb, M.D., argues that there is little support for Edwards's argument that a single-payer system would be better for people who need transplants. The data show, he says, that organ access in the United States, our willingness to transplant the sickest patients, and U.S. medical outcomes are among the best in the world.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Amity Shlaes, Vincent R. Reinhart, Allan H. Meltzer, John L. Chapman
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: How fragile is our financial system? What are the implications of the Fed's actions on Bear Stearns? Do we need new ways of thinking about the risks the system entails? In recent articles, four AEI scholars have looked closely at the evidence of what went wrong and what is ahead.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott Gottlieb
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In this article, AEI resident fellow Scott Gottlieb, M.D., describes how information about a new use of the breast cancer drug Herceptin was slow in reaching oncologists. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delayed approving the new indication for almost two years, and during that period, the drug's sponsor could not distribute its findings about the new use. Proposed FDA guidelines on dissemination of information on unapproved uses of medical products, Gottlieb says, will establish a more appropriate standard for what kind of information should be shared.
  • Topic: Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Vincent R. Reinhart
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Senate Banking Committee approved legislation on May 20 that would empower the Federal Housing Administration to provide relief to mortgage borrowers teetering on the brink of default. The House has already passed similar legislation. Only two months ago, mortgage aid was viewed as unlikely, but the odds now favor it becoming law. For this change of fortune, the legislation's chief sponsors, Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), should thank one person in particular: Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John E. Calfee, Paul H. Rubin
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Senator Kennedy is expected to recover from his brain tumor surgery without any serious side effects, thankfully. And while the spotlight is on his recovery, the news of his malignant brain tumor should also shed some light on drug approval policies.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas P. Miller
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The periodic ritual of announcing the mounting size of the fiscal problem posed by Medicare has never been, and will never be, enough to generate productive reform. Most of us got the memo that we are overcommitted and underfunded. Merely pointing to the size of the problem—in terms of Medicare's massive unfunded long-term liabilities, near-term budget imbalances, future rates of taxation that will be needed to sustain the program, or Medicare's preemption of national resources that crowds out funding for other important public pro-grams and private activities—has had little effect.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Max Watson
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Today's market turbulence and global imbalances prompt the question whether economic and regulatory policies are poorly designed or just badly implemented. The question is urgent for Europe, which has its own asset booms and imbalances to worry about as well as the backwash of US problems. The imbalances in Europe's economies in large part reflect favourable shocks, such as falling interest rates and growing financial integration. But the 'growth crisis' in Portugal underscores the fact that there can be hard landings, even without a financial crisis, if fiscal policy is unwise and if productivity fails to take off. The current global imbalances and turbulence also have a common backdrop in the long period of unusually easy liquidity and low risk premia during which today's problems built up. This suggests that central banks should be prepared more often to 'lean against the wind' in times of asset price exuberance, and that politicians should not cut taxes or boost spending permanently on the back of revenue gains that result from transient financial booms. Banks and supervisors have many lessons to draw. Some involve going 'back to basics' on issues such as liquidity, off-balance-sheet operations, and the ability to close and reopen banks. Others require a careful look at incentives – in executive pay, rating agency roles and loan production systems. Supervisors also need to take better account of boom-bust cycles when they assess risks, and address cross-border issues in EU banking. Moral hazard has been partly addressed by pain inflicted on bank managements and shareholders. But at the macro level it may be building up as policy-makers act to limit losses in a setting where they cannot trace the ultimate fallout from risks. In future, their discretionary interventions need to be truly exceptional and much more symmetrical, or the money supply and the public debt will ratchet up amid serious resource misallocation.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Today's resignation of Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf creates a power vacuum in the most crucial country in the fight against al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism. For the foreseeable future, political power in Pakistan will not be in the hands of lackluster prime minister Yousef Raza Gilani, but in those of the ruling coalition rivals -- Benazir Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Future political contests will likely emphasize Musharraf's perceived closeness to Washington, an issue that united domestic opinion against him. This growing political reality, in addition to Islamabad's unwillingness to confront Islamic militants, further complicates U.S. policy toward Pakistan.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list has a set of criteria for designating groups, there is little clarity in practice about the process for revocation. Even after organizations have renounced terrorism for many years, their designations persist without a clear explanation, and are based on the assumption that historical violence indicates future potential.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 8, Egypt held elections for nearly 53,000 municipal representatives. Not surprisingly, participation was abysmal: Egypt's ruling faction, the National Democratic Party (NDP), ran unopposed for more than 80 percent of the seats, while the Muslim Brotherhood -- the country's only real opposition party -- boycotted the contest in response to government harassment. Although the White House issued a statement expressing concern about "widespread electoral violations," these issues represent only a fraction of Egypt's domestic problems, which also include food shortages, labor unrest, and increasing Islamist social and political penetration. Complicating matters, these crises coincide with the first political transition in decades -- the impeding retirement of eighty-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981. Taken together, these developments raise the specter of instability for a key U.S. ally.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Egypt
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After a six-week delay following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis will go to the polls on February 18 to elect a new National Assembly. Pakistan and Afghanistan are "where many of our most important interests intersect," as Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 5. Accordingly, the election results could affect the position of a key U.S. ally in the war on terror -- the increasingly unpopular President Pervez Musharraf.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 11, 2008, a Boston federal court convicted Emadeddin Muntasser, Samir Almonla, and Muhammad Mubayid of conspiring to defraud and conceal information from the U.S. government. Prosecutors proved the defendants fraudulently used the charity they ran -- Care International -- "to solicit and obtain tax deductible donations for the purpose of supporting and promoting the mujahedin (Muslim holy warriors) and jihad (violent armed conflict)." The defendants concealed from U.S. authorities the fact that Care was an outgrowth of and successor to the al-Kifah Refugee Center, and engaged in non-charitable activities such as the solicitation and expenditure of funds to support violent jihad.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Elizabeth Detwiler
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing, summarizing remarks from a former commander for detainee operations in Iraq, discusses recent successes in improving the conditions of insurgent detainees in the country.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: R. Kent Weaver
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Efforts by President George W. Bush to promote major reforms in the Social Security retirement program have not led to policy change, but rather to increased polarization between the two parties. And the longer we wait to address Social Security's long-term funding problem, the bigger and more painful the changes will need to be.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Critics have raised a number of theoretical and historical objections to the gold standard. Some have called the gold standard a “crazy” idea. The gold standard is not a flawless monetary system. Neither is the fiat money alternative. In light of historical evidence about the comparative magnitude of these flaws, however, the gold standard is a policy option that deserves serious consideration.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Tanner
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Healthcare reform will be one of the top issues of the 2008 presidential election. In the face of widespread public demand for changes in the U.S. health care system, both Barack Obama and John McCain have offered detailed proposals for reform.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr.
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the past, the federal government has introduced moral hazard in the banking system through deposit insurance. Banks underpriced risk because of the federal guarantee that backed deposits. After banking crises in the 1980s and 1990s, deposit insurance was put on a sound basis and that source of moral hazard was mitigated. In its place, monetary policy has become a source of moral hazard. In acting to counter the economic effects of declining asset prices, the Federal Reserve has come to be viewed as underwriting risky investments. Policy pronouncements by senior Fed officials have reinforced that perception. These actions and pronouncements are mutually reinforcing and destructive to the operation of financial markets. The current financial crisis began in the subprime housing market and then spread throughout credit markets. The new Fed policy fueled the housing boom. Refusing to accept responsibility for the housing bubble, the Fed's recent actions will likely fuel a new asset bubble. The cumulative effects of recent monetary policy undermine the case for free markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: T.J. Rodgers
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has passed rules that it promises will make corporate accounting more transparent. In fact, its revised Generally Accepted Accounting Principles have made it difficult for investors — or even CEOs — to understand a company's financial report.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac crisis may have been the most avoidable financial crisis in history. Economists have long complained that the risks posed by the government-sponsored enterprises were large relative to any social benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Rising gas prices and concerns about greenhouse gases have stimulated calls to build more rail transit lines in urban areas, increase subsidies to Amtrak, and construct a large-scale intercity high-speed rail system. These megaprojects will cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but they won't save energy or significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (IL) has proposed an ambitious plan to restructure America's health care sector. Rather than engage in a detailed critique of Obama's health care plan, many critics prefer to label it "socialized medicine." Is that a fair description of the Obama plan and similar plans? Over the past year, prominent media outlets and respectable think tanks have investigated that question and come to a unanimous answer: no.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In January 2007, President Bush announced that the U.S. would double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Iraq as part of his plan for a "New Way Forward." PRTs are small, civilian-military units that assist provincial and local governments to govern more effectively and deliver essential services. These new PRTs would be embedded with Brigade (Army) and Regimental (Marine) Combat Teams (B/RCTs) participating in the "surge" of U.S. forces into Baghdad, Anbar and Erbil provinces. The new ePRTs would begin as four person interagency teams, but would expand to include civilian experts in a broad range of specialties. These new PRTs were staffed with Defense Department civilians and members of the National Guard and Army Reserve until funds became available to the State Department to hire civilian contractors. The process of deploying civilian experts is now underway, but the B/RCTs to which they are being assigned will return to the United States by August 2008.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Baghdad
  • Author: Robert Perito, Jasenka Jocic
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Haiti's constitution was adopted on March 29, 1987 when over 90 percent of the voters approved it in a popular referendum. The result was not surprising. Among the most democratic in the world, Haiti's constitution was proposed in the aftermath of the brutal Duvalier dictatorship and seemed to promise an end to arbitrary and violent rule. Unfortunately, that was not the case as the country endured two more decades of turmoil. In the period of instability following adoption of the constitution, its provisions were more often ignored or violated than observed.
  • Topic: Government, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Caribbean, Haiti
  • Author: Michael Rolince
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 3, the Department of Justice published the revised Attorney General Guidelines (AGG), which govern all Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) activities, including those involving international terrorism. The AGG comes into effect on December 1, 2008, and will consolidate procedures controlling the FBI's various investigative programs. Although members of Congress, civil rights groups, and the media have criticized the AGG, the revision is a necessary and important step for the FBI's counterterrorism investigations as well as all of the Bureau's investigative programs. Justice Department and FBI officials, however, will have to exert strong leadership to ensure the appropriate and effective implementation of the guidelines.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert Puentes
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In the past, strategic investments in our nation's transportation infrastructure—the railroads in the 19th century, the interstates in the 20th—turbocharged growth and transformed the country. But more recently, America's transportation infrastructure has not kept pace with the growth and evolution of its economy. At the precise time when the nation desperately needs to prioritize its limited investments and resources, the federal transportation program has lost focus.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As policymakers confront the ongoing U.S. financial crisis, it is important to take a step back and understand its origins. Those who fault "deregulation," "unfettered capitalism," or "greed" would do well to look instead at flawed institutions and misguided policies. The expansion in risky mortgages to under qualified borrowers was encouraged by the federal government. The growth of "creative" nonprime lending followed Congress's strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act, the Federal Housing Administration's loosening of down-payment standards, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's pressuring lenders to extend mortgages to borrowers who previously would not have qualified.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Sharon Squassoni
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Expectations for nuclear energy have grown dramatically. More than thirty nations now have plans to build nuclear power plants for the first time. A nuclear renaissance, however, is not a foregone conclusion. A major expansion would require significant policy and financial support from governments. Key questions need solid answers beforehand: Can nuclear power help reduce dependence on foreign oil or contribute significantly to needed reductions in carbon emissions? Is nuclear power economically competitive? Can safety be assured and is an acceptable solution for nuclear waste at hand? Can nuclear power be expanded in such a way as to adequately control the added risks of proliferation? To minimize some of the risks of nuclear expansion—whether related to economics, safety, security, or proliferation—the United States should consider several actions: help strengthen the rules of nuclear commerce and transparency, deemphasize the element of national prestige with respect to nuclear energy, help other countries undertake clear-eyed assessments of all available options for generating electricity, and limit the acquisition of sensitive nuclear technologies like uranium enrichment and spent-fuel reprocessing.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: George Perkovich
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The next American president should emphasize the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and really mean it. The verification and enforcement mechanisms that would be required to achieve this would augment U.S. and global security at a time when the nuclear industry will likely expand globally. Without a clearer commitment to the elimination of all nuclear arsenals, non–nuclear-weapon states will not support strengthened nonproliferation rules, inspections, and controls over fissile materials. The accounting and control over nuclear materials that would be necessary to enable nuclear disarmament would greatly reduce risks that terrorists could acquire these materials. If nuclear deterrence would work everywhere and always, we would not worry about proliferation. If nuclear deterrence is not fail-safe, the long-term answer must be to reduce the number and salience of nuclear weapons to zero.
  • Topic: Government, Nuclear Weapons, Peace Studies, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Lex Rieffel, James W. Fox
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is one of the outstanding innovations of the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. No other aid agency-foreign or domestic-can match its purposeful mandate, its operational flexibility and its potential muscle.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Humanitarian Aid, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stan J. Liebowitz
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: Why did the mortgage market melt down so badly? Why were there so many defaults when the economy was not particularly weak? Why were the securities based upon these mortgages not considered anywhere as risky as they actually turned out to be? This report concludes that, in an attempt to increase home ownership, particularly by minorities and the less affluent, virtually every branch of the government undertook an attack on underwriting standards starting in the early 1990s. Regulators, academic specialists, GSEs, and housing activists universally praised the decline in mortgage-under- writing standards as an “innovation” in mortgage lending. This weakening of underwriting standards succeeded in increasing home ownership and also the price of housing, helping to lead to a housing price bubble. The price bubble, along with relaxed lending standards, allowed speculators to purchase homes without putting their own money at risk. The recent rise in foreclosures is not related empirically to the distinction between subprime and prime loans since both sustained the same percent- age increase of foreclosures and at the same time. Nor is it consistent with the “nasty subprime lender” hypothesis currently considered to be the cause of the mortgage meltdown. Instead, the important factor is the distinction between adjustable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages. This evidence is consistent with speculators turning and running when housing prices stopped rising.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis, Minorities
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Judith Miller, Ruth Wedgwood
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On November 15, 2007, The Washington Institute held a Policy Forum with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Judith Miller and Ruth Wedgwood, the Edward B. Burling professor of international law and diplomacy and director of the International Law and Organizations Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 22, a U.S. government case against the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and five of its officials -- accused of financing Hamas -- ended in a mistrial when jurors deadlocked on nearly all of the 197 counts. A week later, Spanish judges acquitted a number of defendants charged with involvement in the 2004 Madrid train attacks. These are only the latest examples of the difficulties Western countries have faced in prosecuting terrorist suspects since September 11. Efforts to handle terrorism suspects outside of the criminal justice system have also encountered significant obstacles, making clear that there are no easy answers for how to treat suspected terrorists.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: J. Scott Carpenter, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow, around 400,000 Omani men and women are expected to vote in elections for eighty-five seats on the nation\'s Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council. Among the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, Oman -- a key U.S. ally and exporter of oil and gas, strategically positioned opposite Iran -- is often considered to be the most politically progressive, perhaps even evolving slowly toward a constitutional monarchy. But the country remains dominated by its ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and for now, the council is limited to advice on public services and infrastructure.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Oman
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The FBI recently announced that it is engaged in a comprehensive realignment of its counterterrorism division -- the largest such reorganization since the September 11 attacks. Although the proposed reorganization is unlikely to achieve the desired fundamental transformation, it should improve the bureau's ability to combat the increasingly complex threat posed by transnational terrorist networks.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On October 21, Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) operatives carried out an attack from northern Iraq into Turkey, killing twelve Turkish soldiers. This incident followed the killing of more than thirty people in recent weeks, including an incident in which the PKK pulled a dozen civilians off a public bus and shot them. The Turkish public has responded to the attacks by calling for incursion into northern Iraq to eliminate PKK camps there.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Armenia
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In April 2006, key donors including the US A, EU, and Canada suspended international aid to the Palestinian Authority government (PA), following the overwhelming victory of Hamas in parliamentary elections. The Government of Israel had previously suspended the transfer of the tax and customs revenues it collects on behalf of the PA.
  • Topic: Government, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
69. More COPS
  • Author: John J. Donohue III, Jens Ludwig
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: It would be unrealistic to expect crime to continue dropping sharply as it did in the 1990s, but that is no reason to undermine the progress brought by successful policies. With recent FBI data showing crime on the rise, it is time to reconsider the massive de-funding of one of the most successful federal anti-crime measures of the 1990s: the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Policing Services (COPS) program. The program, authorized by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, provides grants to state and local police to hire additional officers and adopt aspects of "community policing."
  • Topic: Civil Society, Crime, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Minxin Pei
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Corruption poses one of the most lethal threats to China's future economic development and political stability. Illicit activities such as bribery, kickbacks, theft, and misspending of public funds cost at least 3 percent of GDP. Corruption also undermines the legitimacy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, fuels social unrest, contributes directly to the rise in socioeconomic inequality, and undermines China's environmental security. The prevalence of corruption in China is rooted in the country's partially reformed economy and absence of genuine political reform. Corruption in China has spillover effects beyond its borders. To protect its own interests and encourage China in its transition toward a more market-based economy and open society, the United States should rely on mutual legal cooperation to assist China in its struggle against corruption.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Daniel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Some policymakers in the United States and Europe argue that it is possible to enjoy economic growth and also have a large welfare state. These advocates for bigger government claim that the so- called Nordic Model offers the best of both worlds. This claim does not withstand scrutiny. Economic performance in Nordic nations is lagging, and excessive government is the most likely explanation. The public sector in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland consumes, on average, more than 48 percent of economic output. Total government outlays in the United States, by contrast, are less than 37 percent of gross domes- tic product. Revenue comparisons are even more striking. Tax receipts average more than 45 per- cent of GDP in Nordic nations, a full 20 percent- age points higher than the aggregate tax burden in the United States.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Charles Murray
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In January, W. H. Brady Scholar Charles Murray stepped back from current education debates about reauthorization of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act and education funding in the president's budget to ask more fundamental questions about the goals that should shape American education in the future. This On the Issues is adapted from essays published in the Wall Street Journal on January 16, 17, and 18, 2007.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Thomas Donnelly, Colin Monaghan
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The White House has recently taken important steps to ensure that the tenets of the Bush Doctrine endure beyond the end of President George W. Bush's administration, including a new strategy in Iraq and an increase in the size of U.S. land forces. But as time grows short, the president needs to attend closely to three matters. The first of these—a surge in U.S. efforts in Afghanistan—was discussed in the February 2007 edition of National Security Outlook, is a need as obvious and pressing as Iraq and an important factor in the urgency of rebuilding land forces, especially the Army. The second and third factors are less frequently discussed but essential for the long-term viability of the Bush Doctrine and the continuation of the Pax Americana: articulating a strategy for the “Long War” in the greater Middle East and devising a genuinely global response to the rise of China. This issue of National Security Outlook is devoted to the second factor, the strategy for winning the Long War in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Government, National Security, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, China, Iraq, America, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Thomas Donnelly
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: With the recent announcements of a new strategy for Iraq and a commitment to begin increasing the size of U.S. land forces, the White House has taken two important steps to ensure that the tenets of the Bush Doctrine endure beyond the end of President George W. Bush's administration. Since 9/11 and indeed since the beginning of this administration, strategy has been made by an odd combination of ad hoc improvisation and expansive rhetoric. The day-to-day business of fitting means to ends and filling in the policy blanks has either been delegated to subordinates, left to the bureaucracy, or put in the “too hard” box. As time grows short, Bush needs to attend closely to three further matters. The first is as obvious and pressing as Iraq and an important factor in the need to rebuild land forces, especially the Army: a surge in U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. The second and third factors are less frequently discussed but essential for the long-term viability of the Bush Doctrine and the continuity of the Pax Americana: articulate a strategy for the “long war” in the greater Middle East and devise a genuinely global response to the rise of China. This issue of National Security Outlook begins a series devoted to these three measures of the enduring meaning of the Bush Doctrine.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, National Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, China, Iraq, America, Asia
  • Author: Daniel Serwer
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Why does the United States support Kosovo's independence, even putting at risk its relations not only with Serbia but also with Russia? And how does Washington plan to contain the consequences? It is often assumed that Washington's position is based on a sense of moral obligation, deriving not only from the mistreatment of Albanians under the Milosevic regime but also from American promises since. While this fact or unquestionably weighs on the side of the Kosovars, it is not I think decisive. Understanding Washington's support for Kosovo's independence requires an analysis of the consequences of further delay as well as the consequences of moving ahead, even in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution.
  • Topic: Government, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, America, Balkans
  • Author: Hesham Sallam
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Iran's recent detention of 15 British sailors and marines, captured in the contested waters of the Shatt al-Arab near the Iranian coast, has exacerbated tensions between the United States and Iran. The incident also underscored the opacity of the Iranian political system; it is unclear on whose directive the Iranian navy acted. With U.S.–Iranian relations already strained due to the Islamic Republic's activities in Iraq and its nuclear ambitions, understanding the Islamic Republic's power structure and decision-making processes has become increasingly important. To answer the question "Who rules Ahmadinejad's Iran?" USIP's Iran Policy Forum convened an off-the-record discussion with leading specialists on Iranian politics. This USIPeace Briefing highlights the main points made during the discussion and does not represent the views of USIP, which does not advocate specific policies.
  • Topic: Government, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Lynn Tesser
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: On November 21, 2006, Nepal's government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) to formally end their ten-year conflict, which has resulted in an estimated 13,000 deaths. The agreement has been widely hailed as historic and many observers feel cautiously optimistic, in spite of the hurdles that lie ahead. On January 22, 2007, the U.S. Institute of Peace sponsored a one-day program in Washington, D.C., to address the challenges Nepal now faces. It brought together a broad spectrum of attendees, from representatives of academia and international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. Presenters were asked to comment on particular challenges that Nepal faces during the peace process. This USIPeace Briefing provides an overview of the presentations given at the conference, and includes remarks from Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch (former U.S. ambassador to Nepal and president of the U.S.–China Education Trust); Dr. Chitra K. Tiwari (journalist, The Washington Times); Dr. Jaya Raj Acharya (senior fellow, USIP); and Kul Chandra Gautam (assistant secretary-general of the UN and deputy executive director of UNICEF). It was prepared by Lynn Tesser, program officer in USIP's Jennings Randolph Fellowship program.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Karon Cochran-Budhathoki
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: This USIPeace Briefing highlights the findings regarding the security situation in Nepal in the run up to constituent assembly elections scheduled for November 22, 2007. Since February 2007 the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has held individual meetings and group dialogue sessions on strengthening security and the rule of law in Nepal. These events have taken place in Washington, D.C., Kathmandu, Banke, Siraha, Kailali, Jhapa, Chitwan and Rupandehi Districts. During the sessions and meetings, including with members of the security sector, challenges and solutions to strengthening security and the rule of law were identified and discussed. While election security for the upcoming Constituent Assembly Election was not the primary subject of the discussions, various participants offered a number of recommendations and raised several concerns. Additionally, general security issues, many of which are related to election security, were discussed and can be included in a broader long-term security strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Bush is in Europe this week, where his meetings -- several of which are directly linked to aspects of U.S. Middle East policy -- represent important opportunities to build diplomatic bridges. Today, he visits Prague to address a democracy promotion conference organized by former Czech president Vaclav Havel, former Israeli deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky, and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar. The president's next stop is Heiligendamm, Germany, for the G8 meeting between the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia. On June 8, he continues on to Poland, Italy, Albania, and Bulgaria in order to boost new democracies, cement alliances in the former Communist Bloc, and meet with the Pope.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 17, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) approved the formation of a Hamas-Fatah national unity government by an 83–3 margin. This culminated a process that began in early February with the Mecca accord facilitated by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. Many governments have withheld comment since that accord. One reason for their relative silence is reluctance to criticize a project associated with King Abdullah, who is emerging as a leading force in the Arab world and a linchpin of U.S. efforts to isolate Iran. Another is bated hope that the new government guidelines will be a marked improvement over those of the current Hamas government. Since Hamas's victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections, the focus has been on three principles proposed by the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the UN): (1) recognition of Israel, (2) disavowal of violence, and (3) adherence to past written commitments.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On March 8, 2007, a French court ordered the Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations in Paris to pay a symbolic €1 fine in a defamation suit brought by a U.S.-designated Hamas front organization. The Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (Committee for Welfare and Aid to the Palestinians) (CBSP) charged that it had been defamed by allegations that it finances terrorism and raises funds to support the families of suicide bombers recruited by Hamas. Atlhough the French court acknowledged that the 150 exhibits submitted by the defense "indeed constituted an impressive body of evidence," it nonetheless issued a symbolic ruling in favor of the plaintiff.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Paris, France
  • Author: Victoria Samson
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Defense Information
  • Abstract: The United States just took one small step away from the brink. Congress has opted against funding research for a nuclear weapon that would target underground bunkers. This decision squelched a program that would likely have created a new nuclear warhead, something that is particularly incongruous at a time when nations around the world are fervently trying to convince the leaderships of North Korea and Iran that their countries do not need nuclear weapons. However, this wisdom on the part of the U.S. government may prove to be temporary.
  • Topic: Government, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Rhea Myerscough
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Defense Information
  • Abstract: How do Congress and the Bush administration prioritize the issues monitored by the Center for Defense Information's Challenging Conventional Threats project? This examination of the fiscal year (FY) 2006 and 2007 budget appropriations and requests for U.S. government programs involving small arms and light weapons (hereafter referred to as “small arms”) and landmines attempts to determine just that.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tom Loveless
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: This report launches the second volume of the Brown Center Report on American Education. The five issues of volume one were published from 2000 to 2004. Volume one included regular reports on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and state assessments, analysis of student achievement in charter schools, a study of trends in homework, evaluations of the federal government's Blue Ribbon Schools Program, an investigation of the academic performance of high schools with powerhouse sports teams, analyses of student achievement in urban school districts and rural schools, a survey of exchange students from countries abroad to see what they think of American schools, and a survey of the mathematics preparation of middle school math teachers. Volume two will explore similar topics related to how well American students are learning.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Education, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: For all its challenges Maine stands within reach of a new prosperity—if it takes bold action and focuses its limited resources on a few critical investments. The moment is urgent. After decades of industrial restructuring and drift, the pace of transformation is quickening, and the slow replacement of the old order is yielding a new one that may bring better lives for Mainers. New population growth is bringing new people and new wealth to the state.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Daniel T. Lichter, Andrea Kane
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Most social scientists acknowledge that, on balance, single parents, stepparents, or cohabiting couples are no substitute for childrearing by two married parents. Yet, new data from the federal government show that a record number of babies—nearly 1.5 million—were born to unmarried women in the United States in 2004. Empirical evidence of this sort has leveraged political support for the Bush administration's “Healthy Marriage Initiative.” Congress recently approved major funding for this initiative as part of welfare reform reauthorization. Approximately $100 million per year will be available for research, demonstration, and technical assistance projects to promote healthy marriage through such activities as public advertising campaigns, relationship and marriage education in high schools, and relationship and marriage skills for both unmarried and married couples. In addition, about $50 million per year will be available to promote responsible fatherhood.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Nathan J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: By electing a parliament dominated by Hamas, Palestinians have sharply challenged U.S. policy. The initial American reaction—undermining the new government—will leave the population in chaos, with various Palestinian groups vying for influence. Political constraints preclude anything but a Hamas government in the short term. But the Hamas victory should not be viewed as a defeat for the American vision of reform—which, indeed, may offer a path out of the current deadlock. The United States should develop a policy for the longer term to continue calming the Israeli- Palestinian conflict; maintain the Palestinian Authority; and work for political reform by focusing on the judiciary, media, and other institutions that are independent of the current regime.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Premier Vojislav Kostunica won a high stakes gamble with passage of Serbia's draft constitution in the 28-29 October referendum. However, numerous credible reports indicate the process was deeply flawed and the result falsified. The referendum cannot be characterised as either free or fair. The new constitution could prove a step away from European values. It opens the door to increased centralisation of the state, curtailment of human and minority rights, destruction of judicial independence and potentially even a parliamentary dictatorship. The process used to pass the constitution illustrates how Kostunica continues to transform Serbia into something closer to illiberal authoritarianism than liberal democracy; yet, the referendum was welcomed by the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United States.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Eastern Europe, Serbia
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The risk of an explosion that could cost thousands of lives in the country and shatter the stability of Southern Africa is growing in Zimbabwe. Political reform is blocked, and virtually every economic indicator continues to trend downward. Inflation, poverty and malnutrition are growing more acute. Party and civil society opponents of President Mugabe's government are yet to tap effectively into the living-standards-based dissatisfaction but it could finally become the spark that sets Zimbabwe toward change. The course is risky but Zimbabwe's splintered opposition needs to come together to formulate a campaign of non-violent resistance that channels this anger and frustration into pressure on Mugabe to keep his word to retire by 2008 and on his ruling ZANU-PF party to negotiate seriously on a transition. The international community, long frustrated at its inability to influence the crisis, should assist, especially by tightening targeted sanctions (U.S./EU) and offering mediation services (South Africa).
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, South Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The new Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, is making what cynics would call a serious mistake: he is being honest with the markets. The Fed is uncertain about the future path of U.S. growth and inflation. The most basic tenet of the theory of economic policy is that in circumstances of elevated uncertainty, policymakers should do less. Therefore, in his April 27 testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Bernanke suggested that the Fed might start doing less: Even if in the Committees judgment the risks to its objectives are not entirely balanced, at some point in the future the Committee may decide to take no action at one or more meetings in the interest of allowing more time to receive information relevant to the outlook [emphasis added]. The new Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, is making what cynics would call a serious mistake: he is being honest with the markets. The Fed is uncertain about the future path of U.S. growth and inflation. The most basic tenet of the theory of economic policy is that in circumstances of elevated uncertainty, policymakers should do less. Therefore, in his April 27 testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Bernanke suggested that the Fed might start doing less: Even if in the Committees judgment the risks to its objectives are not entirely balanced, at some point in the future the Committee may decide to take no action at one or more meetings in the interest of allowing more time to receive information relevant to the outlook [emphasis added]. After its May 10 meeting, the Feds Open Market Committee reinforced the message of more uncertainty about the direction of the economy, saying: The Committee judges that some further policy firming may yet be needed to address inflation risks but emphasizes that the extent and timing of any such firming will depend importantly on the evolution of the economic outlook as implied by incoming information [emphasis added]. Chairman Bernanke and virtually all of his colleagues on the Open Market Committee have made it clear, most forcefully in their May 10 statement, that they view the Federal Reserves most important mandated objective as one of maintaining low and stable inflation. A glance at any long-run chart of U.S. growth and inflation data clearly demonstrates the basis for this view. Since the early 1980s, when inflation was reduced and held to low and stable levels, U.S. economic performance has improved markedly. Growth has been higher and steadier; productivity growth picked up especially after 1995 and has remained higher ever since. Virtually all macroeconomic data have stabilized in a way that has reduced the duration and severity of recessions, so that the last recession (in 2001) was barely detectable. The Great Moderation is an often-used term that describes policymakers pride and satisfaction with the beneficial results of bringing down inflation and holding it at low levels.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On Tuesday, January 18, the yield on fifty-year inflation-protected U.K. government bonds (what the British call "indexed-linked gilts") dropped to 0.38 percent, about one-seventh the historical average of just over 2.6 percent for such debt instruments. Just a few months earlier, that yield had been over 1 percent, still extraordinarily low by historical standards, and especially low in an economy that has experienced fifty-three consecutive quarters of positive growth. A yield drop from 1 percent to 0.38 percent on a fifty-year bond corresponds to a 30 percent rise in its price over a period of just three months. That is an annual return of over 100 percent, much higher than the 13 percent annual increase in U.S. house prices at midyear and the 20 to 30 percent gains seen in the stock market before the March 2000 crash. The asset bubble has spread to long-term government bonds, especially those with inflation protection. What is going on here?
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Without a clearer understanding of the serious flaws in the government's official measure of poverty, most initiatives aimed at reducing poverty in the United States will be needlessly ineffective. New measures that take into account contemporary lifestyles and the dynamic U.S. economy will be more useful in helping the poor.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James Q. Wilson
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When President George W. Bush said that America hopes to spread democracy to all the world, he was echoing a sentiment many people support. Though Americans do not put “extending democracy” near the top of their list of foreign policy objectives (preventing terrorism is their chief goal), few would deny that if popular rule is extended it would improve lives around the world. Democracy, of course, means rule by the people. But the devil is in the details. By one count, the number of democracies quintupled in the second half of the twentieth century, but there are freedom- loving and freedom-disdaining democracies. Fareed Zakaria calls the latter “illiberal democracies.” Among them are Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Venezuela
  • Author: Vance Serchuk
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When rioting sparked by a fatal traffic accident involving the U.S. military suddenly broke out in Kabul in May, most in the city were taken by surprise. Less shocking was the response of the Afghan National Police (ANP) to the unrest. Rather than dispersing the mobs and restoring order, Kabul's cops were reported fleeing their posts and, in some cases, joining the looters. “The reaction of our police was really shameful,” acknowledged Jawed Ludin, chief of staff to President Hamid Karzai. Unfortunately, the sorry performance of the ANP was not an isolated event, but a reflection of a much bigger problem. Nearly five years since the ouster of the Taliban and more than three since the fall of Saddam, the Bush administration has repeatedly stumbled in its efforts to create effective foreign police forces. In marked contrast to the army-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have begun to yield encouraging results, the indigenous police in both countries appear stuck in a transition to nowhere, slaughtered by insurgents and infiltrated by militias and warlords.
  • Topic: Government, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Taliban, Kabul
  • Author: Edward Blum, Roger Clegg, Abigail Thernstrom
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Government memos leaked to the press are nothing new in Washington, yet they can still command a front-page, above-the-fold headline. The latest came on December 2, 2005, when the Washington Post trumpeted, “Justice Staff Saw Texas Districting as Illegal; Voting Rights Finding on Map Pushed by DeLay Was Overruled.” (Part of this story was recycled by the Post on Monday, January 23, in another front-page, above-the-fold story.) The story that followed loosely described the contents of a 2003 internal Department of Justice memo written by career staffers in the voting section of the civil-rights division. Those staffers—five lawyers and two analysts—had concluded that the Congressional redistricting plan Texas had recently submitted to them for approval was in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act because it “retrogressed”—or, more simply, “diminished”—the electoral position of blacks and Hispanics. Then attorney general John Ashcroft and the political appointees in the civil-rights division—as well as, incidentally, a career lawyer higher in the chain of command (a fact that the Post failed to note)—rejected the memo's findings and allowed Texas to implement the new plan.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Emily Hsu, Beth DeGrasse
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since they reorganized their forces in Pakistan in 2003, Taliban and other anti-government militia have sought to disrupt democratization efforts and sow a climate of fear in Afghanistan. As a result, violence has crept back onto the international radar screen in the last couple of years, a brutal reminder the insurgency is far from defeated. This rise in bloodshed is particularly problematic today, as U.S. forces begin this summer to transfer control of insurgent-heavy regions of the country to NATO. The U.S. Institute of Peace held a recent special session of its Afghanistan Working Group dedicated to this topic, with counterinsurgency experts Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation and Colonel David Lamm of National Defense University. Beth DeGrasse, coordinator of USIP's Afghanistan Working Group
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Asia
  • Author: Dorina Bekoe, Kelly Campbell
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Civilians and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur, western Sudan, are increasingly being attacked by militia groups. At the same time, it is progressively more difficult to deliver humanitarian assistance to Darfur as aid agencies are hampered by increased banditry and continued obstruction by the government of Sudan (GOS). Moreover, the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) does not offer adequate protection as it continues to operate with severe budgetary constraints, inadequate amounts of military officers and equipment, and a limited mandate that does not allow it to prevent incidents or respond sufficiently to attacks. On December 14, 2005, the Sudan Peace Forum of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) convened to address the continuing challenges facing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Darfur. Firsthand accounts of the humanitarian crisis were presented by Sloan Mann of the United States Agency for International Development; Michael Heller Chu of the United Nations Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance; and Jonathan Morgenstein of USIP. Ambassadors Chester Crocker and Francis Deng co-chaired the meeting. This USIPeace Briefing summarizes the discussion on the rising insecurity faced by civilians in Darfur, the challenges facing AMIS, the response by the GOS, and the opportunities for the international community to facilitate humanitarian assistance in Darfur.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Sudan
  • Author: Robert Gates
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 24, 2004, Gates was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman of the Council on Foreign Relations: Gwetzmann: “Do you have any predictions as to how Iraq is going to turn out?” Gates: “No. We have the old line in the intelligence business that everything we want to know is divided into two categories: secrets and mysteries.” Gwertzman: “And Iraq is which?” Gates: “Iraq is very much the latter.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 1, 2006, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit became Turkey's new chief of staff. Compared with his predecessor, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, who came into office about the same time as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, General Buyukanit is a more vocal personality on many issues, including secularism. As Turkey prepares for the April 2007 election of a new president by parliament, General Buyukanit's term marks a new, crucial era in military-civilian relations in Turkey. What are the dynamics of this new era, and what implications does it have for U.S. policy?
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 25, 2006, Jeffrey White, David Makovsky, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Jeffrey White is the Berrie Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and the coauthor, with Michael Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency. David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. He, like Jeffrey White, recently returned from a trip to Israel. Dennis Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza