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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