A Framework for Restructuring the Military Retirement System

A Framework for Restructuring the Military Retirement System. Strategic Studies Institute. David S. Lyle et al. July 24, 2013.

The current military retirement system has been integral to sustaining the All Volunteer Force (AVF). Mounting federal budget challenges, however, have raised concern that the program may become fiscally unsustainable. While several restructuring proposals have emerged, none have considered the implications of these changes to the broader issue of manning an AVF. Changes to the existing system could create military personnel shortfalls, adversely affect servicemember and retiree wellbeing, and reduce public confidence in the Armed Forces. With the right analytical framework in place, however, a more holistic system restructuring is possible, one that avoids these negative effects while significantly reducing costs. A comprehensive framework is provided, as well as a proposal that stands to benefit both servicemembers in terms of value and the military in terms of overall cost savings.

[HTML format with a link to the PDF file, 49 pages].

http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/files/1162-summary.pdf Executive Summary [PDF format, 2 pages, 566.69 KB].

Interpreting Recent Trends in the US Auto Industry

Interpreting Recent Trends in the US Auto Industry. Economics & Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. Web posted July 18, 2013.

U.S. light vehicle demand has recovered to near pre-recession levels; in fact, June’s seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of almost 16 million vehicles was the highest since 2007. Assembly of light vehicles in the U.S. has also returned to near pre-recession levels. These figures show a remarkable turnaround from just four years ago, when the industry’s major domestically owned firms were bankrupt. The U.S. auto industry has fundamental strengths in demand, quality, and innovation. However, other nations are not standing still, leading to a growing U.S. trade deficit in autos. In particular, Mexico accounts for 26% of the U.S. trade deficit in passenger vehicles and parts (33% if heavy trucks are included). Germany accounts for another 16% of our auto trade deficit, despite significantly higher wages than in the U.S.. Both of these nations could be partners as well as rivals. In particular, having Mexico and the U.S. each specialize in what it does best could mean more total U.S. employment in the industry, by making the overall North American industry more competitive. Policy could play a role in avoiding a race to the bottom, and instead promote growth that leads to higher wages and more innovation on both sides of the border.

[PDF format, 8 pages, 242.08 KB].

Many Say Economic Recovery Is Still a Long Way Off

Many Say Economic Recovery Is Still a Long Way Off. Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. July 23, 2013.

Four years after the recession officially ended, the economic recovery remains a long way off in the view of many Americans. A new survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted July 17-21 among 1,480 adults, finds that 44% say it will be a long time before the nation’s economy recovers. Smaller percentages say either the economy already is recovering (28%) or will recover soon (26%). These opinions are little changed from March. But last October, shortly before the presidential election, fewer Americans (36%) said it would be a long time before the economy recovers. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 19 pages, 531.08 KB].

Taxes on Foreign Earned Income

Taxes on Foreign Earned Income. Urban Institute. Eric Toder. Web posted July 24, 2013.

While taxation of overseas profits of U.S. multinational corporations has made the headlines lately, U.S. citizens who work overseas also face special rules. Unlike most countries, the United States requires that its citizens pay tax on their worldwide income (with a credit for foreign taxes paid), even when they are residing elsewhere. But the United States also allows its citizens who reside abroad exclusion for the first $97,600 of their foreign earned income and a special housing allowance. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 1 page, 89.70 KB].

How America Pays for College 2013

How America Pays for College 2013. Sallie Mae. July 23, 2013.

The study gives a compelling look at how today’s families view higher education, manage higher education costs, and tap a variety of funding sources. This year’s study finds that families are adjusting to a new post-recession reality to pay for college. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 58 pages, 1.69 MB].

The United States and R2P: From Words to Action

The United States and R2P: From Words to Action. U.S. Institute of Peace, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Brookings Institution. Madeleine K. Albright and Richard S. Williamson. July 2013.

The report seeks to increase understanding of the responsibility to protect (R2P), assess how the concept has worked in relevant cases, and identify concrete steps to bolster the will and capacity of U.S. decision makers to respond in a timely manner to threats of genocide, crimes against humanity, and other mass atrocities. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 36 pages, 621.95 KB].

Earthquakes: Risk, Detection, Warning, and Research

Earthquakes: Risk, Detection, Warning, and Research. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Peter Folger. July 18, 2013.

Portions of all 50 states and the District of Columbia are vulnerable to earthquake hazards, although risks vary greatly across the country and within individual states. Seismic hazards are greatest in the western United States, particularly in California, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska and Hawaii. California has more citizens and infrastructure at risk than any other state because of the state’s frequent seismic activity combined with its large population and developed infrastructure. The United States faces the possibility of large economic losses from earthquake-damaged buildings and infrastructure. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has estimated that earthquakes cost the United States, on average, over $5 billion per year.

[PDF format, 26 pages, 848.47 KB].

Measuring the Internet Economy

Measuring the Internet Economy. Organisation for the Economic Co-operation and Development. July 12, 2013.

The Internet began as a way of linking different computers over the phone network, but it now connects billions of users worldwide from wherever they happen to be via portable or fixed devices. The Internet began as an important tool for improving communication but has transformed into a universal technology supporting all virtually sectors across the economy, just like electricity or steam engine did in the past. Given the growing importance of the Internet as a policy tool, the question about the value of the Internet economy becomes particularly relevant. There is a high level of interest, therefore, in being able to measure the size of the Internet economy as a way to understand the effects of various investment strategies, regulatory rulings and policy decisions. The research illustrates the importance of establishing an international definition and the need to develop related policies. According to one of the approaches, at least 3.2% and up to 13.8% of business sector value added in the United States in 2011 could be attributed to Internet-related activities depending on the scope of the definition. It needs to be highlighted that the respective figures for 2010 were 3% and up to 13%. This indicates that the Internet economy has reported a steady growth rate since 2010. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 108 pages, 1.83 MB].

Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues

Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Adam Vann et al. July 16, 2013.

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to recover oil and natural gas from underground low permeability rock formations. Its use along with horizontal drilling has been responsible for an increase in estimated U.S. oil and natural gas reserves. Hydraulic fracturing and related oil and gas production activities have been controversial because of their potential effects on public health and the environment. Several environmental statutes have implications for the regulation of hydraulic fracturing by the federal government and states.

[PDF format, 37 pages, 423.94 KB].

How Europe’s Changing Population Will Impact on Income Inequality

How Europe’s Changing Population Will Impact on Income Inequality. RAND Corporation. Benoit Guerin. July 17, 2013.

Analyzing future demographic trends will help policymakers successfully implement Europe’s poverty strategy for 2020 by reducing at-risk-of-poverty rates for a significant number of EU citizens. Sections of the population most at risk of poverty that are likely to grow in size include the elderly and migrants, as well as elderly women and single heads of households. Successfully managing the transition to an increasingly ageing population while continuing to maintain high welfare standards will depend upon continuing reform of pensions systems, healthcare systems and labour markets, according to the report. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 45 pages, 0.8 MB].