Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt

Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Marc Labonte and Jared C. Nagel. May 28, 2015.

The report presents current data on estimated ownership of U.S. Treasury securities and major holders of federal debt by country. Federal debt represents the accumulated balance of borrowing by the federal government. To finance federal borrowing, U.S. Treasury securities are sold to investors. Treasury securities may be purchased directly from the Treasury or on the secondary market by individual private investors, financial institutions in the United States or overseas, and foreign, state, or local governments. Foreign investors have held slightly less than half of the publicly held federal debt in recent years, prompting questions on the location of the foreign holders and how much debt they hold.

[PDF foramt, 10 pages, 255.39 KB].

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Role of Congress in Trade Policy

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Role of Congress in Trade Policy. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Ian F. Fergusson. May 28, 2015.

Legislation to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”), sometimes called “fast track,” was introduced as the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA- 2015; H.R. 1890/S. 995) on April 16, 2015. The legislation was reported by the Senate Finance Committee on April 22, 2015, and by the House Ways and Means Committee the next day. TPA, as incorporated into H.R. 1314 by substitute amendment, passed the Senate on May 22 by a vote of 62-37. The previous grant of authority expired on July 1, 2007. TPA is the process Congress has made available to the President to enable legislation to approve and implement certain international trade agreements to be considered under expedited legislative procedures for limited periods, provided the President observes certain statutory obligations.

[PDF format, 28 pages, 439.0 KB].

Broad Public Support for Legal Status for Undocumented Immigrants

Broad Public Support for Legal Status for Undocumented Immigrants. Pew Research Center. June 4, 2015.

With immigration shaping up to be a major issue in both the final years of the Obama administration and the 2016 presidential campaign, most Americans (72%) continue to say undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay in the country legally, if certain requirements are met. These views have fluctuated only modestly over the past two years. As in prior surveys, a majority of those who favor granting legal status for people in the U.S. illegally – 42% of the public overall – say they should be able to apply for U.S. citizenship. About a quarter of the public (26%) say they should only be able to apply for permanent residency. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 20 pages, 508.88 KB].

Faith in European Project Reviving

Faith in European Project Reviving. Pew Research Center. Bruce Stokes. June 2, 2015.

To paraphrase the American author and humorist Mark Twain, recent reports of the death of the European Union were greatly exaggerated. In the wake of the euro currency crisis, public support for the EU and the belief that European economic integration was good for one’s country had declined precipitously across Europe, reaching a low point in 2013. But in 2015, favorable views of the EU and faith in the efficacy of creating a single market are generally rebounding in major EU member states, according to the survey. And this revival in pro-EU sentiment is closely related to the public’s economic mood. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 36 pages, 673.01 KB].

Millennials and Political News: Social Media – the Local TV for the Next Generation?

Millennials and Political News: Social Media – the Local TV for the Next Generation? Pew Research Center. Amy Mitchell et al. June 1, 2015.

When it comes to where younger Americans get news about politics and government, social media look to be the local TV of the Millennial generation. About six-in-ten online Millennials (61%) report getting political news on Facebook in a given week, a much larger percentage than turn to any other news source, according to the analysis. This stands in stark contrast to internet-using Baby Boomers, for whom local TV tops the list of sources for political news at nearly the same reach (60%). At the same time, Millennials’ relatively low reliance on local TV for political news (37% see news there in a given week) almost mirrors Baby Boomers’ comparatively low reliance on Facebook (39%). [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 29 pages, 909.32 KB].

Nepal Earthquake: Prelude to Bigger Disaster?

Nepal Earthquake: Prelude to Bigger Disaster? YaleGlobal. Alark Saxena. June 2, 2015.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, killing 8,800, injuring thousands more and leaving many homeless. The quake and series of aftershocks also left property damage and devastated communities. International relief agencies rushed to the scene, but researchers warn that such disasters are inevitable for the entire Hindu Kush Himalayan region with the continuous sinking of the Indian tectonic plate below the Eurasian plate. Alark Saxena explains why Nepal and other countries are highly vulnerable to earthquakes and urges a long-term focus on preparation. Poverty, weak governance and uncontrolled urbanization increase the region’s vulnerability. Costly rescue operations grab headlines, but governments, NGOs, donors and the media must focus on strategies for long-term preparation. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Iran’s Role in Iraq: Room for Cooperation?

Iran’s Role in Iraq: Room for Cooperation? RAND Corporation. Alizera Nader. June 1, 2015.

The paper examines Iran’s objectives and influence in Iraq in light of ISIL’s ascendance. It focuses on Iran’s ties with Iraqi Shi’a parties and militias and the implications of Iran’s sectarian policies for U.S. interests. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 23 pages, 0.2 MB].

From Cooperation to Competition – The Future of U.S.-Russian Relations

From Cooperation to Competition – The Future of U.S.-Russian Relations. Strategic Studies Institute. Gregory K. Anderson et al. May 28, 2015.

Russian aggression in 2014 caught U.S. policy and strategy off guard, forcing reactive measures and reevaluation of the U.S. approach toward Russia. Moscow employed nonlinear methodologies and operated just beneath traditional thresholds of conflict to take full advantage of U.S. and NATO policy and process limitations. The report presents four key considerations for future policy and strategy.

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

From Dependence to Self-Reliance: Changing the Paradigm in Protracted Refugee Situations

From Dependence to Self-Reliance: Changing the Paradigm in Protracted Refugee Situations. Migration Policy Institute. T. Alexander Aleinikoff. May 2015.

The majority of the 51 million people displaced in the world today are in protracted situations, forcing them to live in limbo for years. The policy brief argues for long-term development solutions and a new narrative that emphasizes refugees’ potential to contribute to host and origin communities through their own human capital, transnational connections, and dedicated international assistance. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format with a link to the full text PDF file].

Arming Iraq’s Kurds: Fighting IS, Inviting Conflict

Arming Iraq’s Kurds: Fighting IS, Inviting Conflict. International Crisis Group. May 12, 2015.

According to the report, loosely organised in an ad hoc coalition, Western countries rushed military aid to Iraqi Kurds in the face of a lightning assault by the Islamic State (IS) in June 2014. They failed, however, to develop a strategy for dealing with the consequences of arming non-state actors in Iraq, a country whose unity they profess to support. Rather than forging a strong, unified military response to the IS threat, building up Kurdish forces accelerated the Kurdish polity’s fragmentation, increased tensions between these forces and non-Kurds in disputed areas and strengthened Iraq’s centrifugal forces. Delivered this way, military assistance risks prolonging the conflict with IS, worsening other longstanding, unresolved conflicts and creating new ones. A new approach is called for that revives and builds on past efforts to transform Kurdish forces into a professional institution, says the report. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 44 pages, 3.54 MB].