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Global Flashpoints 2015

February 24, 2015 Comments off

Global Flashpoints 2015
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

Maintaining international security and pursuing American interests is more difficult now than perhaps at any time in history. The security environment that the United States faces is more complex, dynamic, and difficult to predict. At the same time, no domestic consensus exists on the purposes of American power and how best to pursue them. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) looks ahead in this annual volume at the “flashpoints” that will likely arise in 2015, how best to deal with them, and what lasting effects they might leave for the next American administration and its allies around the world.

An Overview of the Millennium Challenge Corporation

February 24, 2015 Comments off

An Overview of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (PDF)
Source: Center for Global Development

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent US foreign assistance agency, was established with broad bipartisan support in January 2004. The agency was designed to deliver aid differently, with a mission and model reflecting key principles of aid effectiveness.

MCC has a single objective—reducing poverty through economic growth—which allows it to pursue development objectives in a targeted way. There are three key pillars that underpin MCC’s model:

1. Policies matter: MCC partners only with countries that demonstrate commitment to good governance on the premise that aid should build on those practices and reward countries already pursuing policies conducive to private investment and poverty-reducing growth.
2. Results matter: MCC seeks to increase the effectiveness of its programs by identifying cost-effective projects and investing only in those that promise to deliver positive development returns. MCC tracks the progress of its investments and has committed to measuring project impact through rigorous evaluations.
3. Country ownership matters: MCC works in partnership with eligible countries to develop and implement an aid program on the premise that investments are more likely to be effective and sustained if they reflect the country’s own priorities and strengthen the partner government’s accountability to its citizens.

China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports

February 20, 2015 Comments off

China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This report examines China’s recent emergence as a major agricultural importer, analyzes U.S.-China trade patterns, summarizes projections of future imports, and discusses how Chinese officials are adjusting their strategic approach to agricultural trade as imports grow.

Burger King’s Inversion: A Whopper of a Tax Dodge

February 17, 2015 Comments off

Burger King’s Inversion: A Whopper of a Tax Dodge
Source: Americans for Tax Fairness

This new Americans for Tax Fairness report shows that Burger King and its leading shareholders will dodge an estimated $400 million to $1.2 billion in taxes between 2015 and 2018 from its planned merger with Tim Hortons, a Canadian company. This contradicts the assertion by CEO Daniel Schwartz that Burger King’s plan to become a Canadian company (known as an inversion) “is really not about taxes.”

The ATF report finds that by renouncing its U.S. corporate “citizenship” Burger King could dodge $117 million in U.S. taxes on profits that it held offshore at the end of 2013. Burger King has been able to indefinitely defer paying taxes on those profits under U.S. law; by becoming a Canadian company it may never pay U.S. taxes on those profits. In addition, Burger King may avoid an additional $275 million in U.S. taxes between 2015 and 2018 because under Canadian law it will no longer have to pay (even on a deferred basis) U.S. taxes on future worldwide profits.

The report also reveals that Burger King’s largest shareholders could save as much as $820 million in capital gains taxes because of the way the company has structured the inversion.

Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977-1980, Volume IX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, August 1978-December 1980

February 17, 2015 Comments off

Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977-1980, Volume IX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, August 1978-December 1980
Source: U.S. State Department

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977–1980, Volume IX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, August 1978–December 1980. As part of the Foreign Relations subseries devoted to the foreign policy of the administration of President Jimmy Carter, this volume is the second of two volumes that document U.S. efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement to the Arab-Israeli dispute. This volume begins with the August 1978 acceptance by Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin of President Carter’s invitation to attend a tripartite summit meeting at Camp David. It traces the course of the September 1978 Camp David Summit and the series of negotiations which followed, talks which culminated in the conclusion of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty on March 26, 1979.

During this period, the Arab-Israeli dispute was top on the list of U.S. foreign policy priorities, reflected in President Carter’s direct involvement in the peace process. With the U.S. failure to broaden Arab support for its diplomatic efforts and the pressures caused by a growing number of crises elsewhere, the administration’s engagement with the Arab-Israeli dispute entered a less intensive phase after the spring of 1979. The volume concludes by documenting the administration’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to build upon the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty and address the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During the last eighteen months of the administration, U.S. diplomacy toward this issue focused on keeping the faltering autonomy negotiations on track, securing the continued goodwill and stability of Egypt, mediating Sadat’s public rivalries with other Arab countries, dealing with the upheaval in Lebanon, and addressing the series of resolutions related to the Arab-Israeli dispute brought before the United Nations.

USDA Agricultural Projections to 2024

February 16, 2015 Comments off

USDA Agricultural Projections to 2024
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

USDA’s 10-year projections for the food and agriculture sector cover major agricultural commodities, agricultural trade, and aggregate indicators of the U.S. farm sector, such as farm income.

Who Is Internationally Diversified? Evidence from 296 401(k) Plans

February 16, 2015 Comments off

Who Is Internationally Diversified? Evidence from 296 401(k) Plans
Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

We examine the international equity allocations of over 3 million individuals in 296 401(k) plans over the 2006-2011 period. These allocations show enormous cross-individual variation, ranging between zero and over 75 percent, as well as an upward trend that is only partially accounted for by the slight decrease in importance of the U.S. market relative to the world market. International equity allocations also display strong cohort effects, with younger cohorts investing more internationally than older ones, but also each cohort investing more internationally over time. This finding suggests that the home bias phenomenon may slowly disappear over time. Worker’s salary has a positive effect on international allocations, while account balance has a negative one, but these effects are not economically large. Education, financial literacy, and the fraction of the foreign-born population measured at the zip code level have strong positive effects on international diversification, consistent with familiarity and information stories. In addition, states with more exports have higher international allocations.

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