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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Saudi Arabia posted its first budget deficit in 2009 in eight years as government revenues fell by over 54% to SAR505bn. Despite increased spending, the actual deficit of SAR45bn fell short of the budgeted SAR65bn, thanks to a rebound in crude oil prices. The average YTD OPEC basket oil price was significantly higher than the USD44 assumed in the 2009 budget. Driven by higher government spending, the Kingdom's economy expanded by a real 0.15% in 2009. In the face of a sharp oil sector contraction due to restricted quotas and lower prices, growth was largely driven by the non-oil sector which expanded by 3.0%. The government sector with 4.0% growth was a particularly important source of resilience while the private sector expanded by 2.5%. For 2010, the government projects revenues of SAR470bn, 14.6% higher than the SAR410bn budgeted in 2009. Spending is set to expand by 13.7% to SAR540bn from SAR475bn. The deficit is set to broadly match this year's figure at SAR70bn, or $18.7 billion) as the Arab world's largest economy focuses on development and job creation. The oil price remains the key risk for the Saudi economic outlook in 2010. OPEC now expects a 0.8% increase in total crude oil consumption to 84.93 mb/d in 2010.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Christopher J. Conover
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A well-established principle of public finance holds that taxes impose costs on society beyond the amount of revenue government collects. Estimates vary depending on the type of tax, but the “marginal excess burden” of federal taxes most likely ranges from 14 to 52 cents per dollar of tax revenue, averaging about 44 cents for all federal taxes.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Bernard Gwertzman (interviewer)
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: After nine months of political wrangling, Iraq's parliament confirmed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's new coalition government December 21. Though the government is "a good basis for setting out," says Iraq expert Joost Hiltermann, there's much uncertainty about how cohesive it will be and whether the inclusive government formed can govern. Hiltermann says there are questions about who will head the three major security ministries, whether a new National Council for Strategic Policy--designed as a "real check" against Maliki's power--will be approved by parliament, and whether Ayad Allawi, who headed the Iraqiya bloc that won the most seats in the election, will want to head that council. The United States pushed a power-sharing agreement "that went beyond the sharing of ministerial positions," says Hiltermann, but it remains to be seen whether various factions, including the prime minister and his allies, will allow that to happen.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, Politics, Governance, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Clark Kent Ervin
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: This is the fourth in a series of reports, underwritten principally by the Ford Foundation, and, in this particular case, additionally, the Houston Endowment, as to various cities' (namely, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, and Houston) preparedness for terrorism and catastrophic natural disasters. Our goal in each city was to identify best practices that can be replicated in other cities around the nation; to identify any gaps in preparedness; and to make recommendations to close any such gaps. We conducted these assessments primarily through roundtable discussions in each city in 2007-2009 with key local, state, and federal government officials, corporate and non-profit stakeholders, and academic and think tank experts, with some supplemental research and follow-up interviews. The audience for each roundtable consisted of representatives of funding organizations, congressional staff, policy experts, and students, all of whom were helpful in engaging the speakers in dialogue following their formal presentations.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Terrorism, Natural Disasters, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, Chicago
  • Author: George A. Selgin, Lawrence H. White, William D. Lastrapes
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As the one-hundredth anniversary of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act approaches, we assess whether the nation's experiment with the Federal Reserve has been a success or a failure. Drawing on a wide range of recent empirical research, we find the following: (1) The Fed's full history (1914 to present) has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed's establishment. (2) While the Fed's performance has undoubtedly improved since World War II, even its postwar performance has not clearly surpassed that of its undoubtedly flawed predecessor, the National Banking system, before World War I. (3) Some proposed alternative arrangements might plausibly do better than the Fed as presently constituted. We conclude that the need for a systematic exploration of alternatives to the established monetary system is as pressing today as it was a century ago.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Andrew J. Coulson
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: School voucher and education tax credit programs have proliferated in the United States over the past two decades. Advocates have argued that they will enable families to become active consumers in a free and competitive education marketplace, but some fear that these programs may in fact bring with them a heavy regulatory burden that could stifle market forces. Until now, there has been no systematic, empirical investigation of that concern. The present paper aims to shed light on the issue by quantifying the regulations imposed on private schools both within and outside school choice programs, and then analyzing them with descriptive statistics and regression analyses. The results are tested for robustness to alternative ways of quantifying private school regulation, and to alternative regression models, and the question of causality is addressed. The study concludes that vouchers, but not tax credits, impose a substantial and statistically significant additional regulatory burden on participating private schools.
  • Topic: Education, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Information about prices and quantities of assets lies at the heart of well-functioning capital markets. In the current financial crisis, it has become clear that many important actors-both firms and regulatory agencies-have not had sufficient information. Distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, this Working Paper proposes a new regulatory regime for gathering and disseminating financial market information. The authors argue that government regulators need a new infrastructure to collect and analyze adequate information from large (systemically important) financial institutions. This new information framework would bolster the government's ability to foresee, contain, and, ideally, prevent disruptions to the overall financial services industry.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gerald LeMelle
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Policy Information Center
  • Abstract: Welcome to International Affairs Forum's fourth special publication. We are once again delighted to be able to offer our readers a diverse collection of views, and I hope everyone will find something of interest. I think this publication stands out not only because of the quality of contributors, who have been generous enough to give up their valuable time over such a busy period, but also the range of subjects and geographical reach—we have contributors based on four continents and from nine countries covering everything from defense policy through Brand America and U.S.-India relations. I don't wish to add anything to the enormous amount of ink spilled over the historic nature of the recent election, except to say that whatever one's views of the past eight years—and this publication contains a full range of them—living in Tokyo has demonstrated to me time and again that although this is the Asian century, the world's eyes have been, and still are, very much on the United States of America and what Barack Obama will do in office.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, India, Asia, Tokyo
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: President Barack Obama, former U.S. Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, and others propose a new government agency that would evaluate the relative effectiveness of medical treatments. The need for “comparative-effectiveness research” is great. Evidence suggests Americans spend $700 billion annually on medical care that provides no value. Yet patients, providers, and purchasers typically lack the necessary information to distinguish between high- and low-value services.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Vern McKinley, Gary Gegenheimer
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A financial-institution bailout involves government intervention through a transaction or forbearance targeted to a financial institution or group of financial institutions. The action is preemptive as the financial institution does not fail and go out of business, but remains a going concern, benefiting creditors, shareholders, or counterparties. In the absence of a bailout, the financial institution would either be forced to go through receivership or bankruptcy in the prescribed legal form, or have its role in financial intermediation disrupted.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States