The Global Religious Landscape

The Global Religious Landscape. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. December 18, 2012.

Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 81 pages, 10 MB].

Optimal Oil Production and the World Supply of Oil

Optimal Oil Production and the World Supply of Oil. International Monetary Fund. Nikolay Aleksandrov et al. December 17, 2012.

The study presents the optimal oil extraction strategy and the value of an oil field using a multiple real option approach. The numerical method is flexible enough to solve a model with several state variables, to discuss the effect of risk aversion, and to take into account uncertainty in the size of reserves. Optimal extraction in the baseline model is found to be volatile. If the oil producer is risk averse, production is more stable, but spare capacity is much higher than what is typically observed. It shows that decisions are very sensitive to expectations on the equilibrium oil price using a mean reverting model of the oil price where the equilibrium price is also a random variable. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 31 pages, 1.97 MB].

The President’s State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications

The President’s State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Colleen J. Shogan and Thomas H. Neale. December 17, 2012.

The State of the Union address is a communication between the President and Congress in which the chief executive reports on the current conditions of the United States and provides policy proposals for the upcoming legislative year. Formerly known as the “Annual Message,” the State of the Union address originates in the Constitution. As part of the system of checks and balances, Article II, Section 3, clause 1 mandates that the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” In recent decades, the President has expanded his State of the Union audience, addressing the speech to both the nation and Members of Congress.

[PDF format, 18 pages, 228.88 KB].

For Better Planning, Watch Global Demographic Trends

For Better Planning, Watch Global Demographic Trends. YaleGlobal. Joseph Chamie. December 12, 2012.

An understanding of demographic trends can assist governments in targeting policies for the future and saving money for education, retirement, taxes, healthcare, distribution of natural resources, and more. More importantly, targeted policies can ease resentment emerging over demographic imbalances. The globe can anticipate an additional 1 billion people by 2025 – a total of 8 billion – and demographer Joseph Chamie lists seven trends. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues

Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Mark Holt. December 11, 2012.

The policy debate over the role of nuclear power in the nation’s energy mix is rooted in the technology’s fundamental characteristics. Nuclear reactors can produce potentially vast amounts of energy with relatively low consumption of natural resources and emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. However, facilities that produce nuclear fuel for civilian power reactors can also produce materials for nuclear weapons. The process of nuclear fission (splitting of atomic nuclei) to generate power also results in the production of radioactive material that must be contained in the reactor and can remain hazardous for thousands of years. How to manage the weapons proliferation and safety risks of nuclear power, or whether nuclear power is worth those risks, are issues that have long been debated in Congress.

[PDF format, 13 pages, 234.71 KB].

U.S. Farm Income

U.S. Farm Income. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Randy Schnopf. December 10, 2012.

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), national net farm income–a key indicator of U.S. farm well-being–is forecast at $114 billion in 2012, down 3.3% from last year’s record, but still the second-highest total on record. In addition to near-record farm income, farm wealth is also at record levels. Farm asset values–which reflect farm investors’ and lenders’ expectations about long-term profitability of farmsector investments–are expected to rise nearly 7% in 2012 to a record $2,540 billion for a fourthconsecutive year of gains.

[PDF format, 29 pages, 531.6 KB].

Presidential Reorganization Authority: History, Recent Initiatives, and Options for Congress

Presidential Reorganization Authority: History, Recent Initiatives, and Options for Congress. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Henry B. Hogue. December 11, 2012.

On January 13, 2012, President Barack Obama announced that he would ask Congress to reinstate so-called presidential reorganization authority, and his Administration conveyed a legislative proposal that would renew this authority to Congress on February 16, 2012. Bills based on the proposed language were subsequently introduced in the Senate (S. 2129) and the House (H.R. 4409) during the 112th Congress. Should this authority be granted, the President indicated that his first submitted plan would propose consolidation of six business and trade-related agencies into one: U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Export Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. It appears that this plan would also involve the relocation of some subunits and functions that are not directly linked with business and trade. The Administration has stated, for example, that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would be moved to the Department of the Interior.

[PDF format, 53 pages, 549.91 KB].