Archive

Archive for the ‘Congressional Research Service’ Category

“Dark Pools” In Equity Trading: Significance and Recent Developments, CRS Insights (August 27, 2014)

September 16, 2014 Comments off

“Dark Pools” In Equity Trading: Significance and Recent Developments, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Dark pools are relatively recent and controversial electronic stock trading alternatives to traditional exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), and now account for about 15% of overall trading volume. A dark pool is a type of alternative trading system (ATS), a broker-dealer who matches the stock trading orders of multiple buyers and sellers outside of exchanges. Orders sent to dark pools to buy or sell certain stocks are not publicly displayed. When they emerged in the late 1990s, that opacity attracted the pools’ initial clients, institutional investors (such as pension and mutual funds), who used it to conceal large trading interests, thus helping to reduce the risk of the market moving against their trades. Quote concealment is a legacy of a regulation adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 1998, Regulation ATS, which allowed ATSs with less than an average 5% share of the trading volume to not publicly display their quotes. This contrasts with the “lit” venues, Nasdaq and the exchanges, which do.

About these ads

CRS — The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP): Issues in Brief (August 27, 2014)

September 16, 2014 Comments off

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP): Issues in Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), four federal agencies have responsibility for long-term earthquake risk reduction: the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These agencies assess U.S. earthquake hazards, deliver notifications of seismic events, develop measures to reduce earthquake hazards, and conduct research to help reduce overall U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes. Congressional oversight of the NEHRP program encompasses how well the four agencies coordinate their activities to address the earthquake hazard. Better coordination was a concern that led to changes to the program in legislation enacted in 2004 (P.L. 108-360).

CRS — The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): An Explanation (August 27, 2014)

September 16, 2014 Comments off

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): An Explanation (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recognizing the special burdens that members of the military may encounter trying to meet their financial obligations while serving their country, in 1940 Congress passed the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The law was amended from time to time, ordinarily in response to military operations that required the activation of the Reserves. P.L. 108-189, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), was enacted on December 19, 2003, as a modernization and restatement of the protections contained in the SSCRA. Much like with the SSCRA, the SCRA has been amended since its initial passage and proposed changes continue to be introduced in Congress. This report summarizes the rights granted to persons serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and in some instances, to their dependents, under the SCRA.

CRS — Same-Sex Marriage: A Legal Background After United States v. Windsor (September 4, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Same-Sex Marriage: A Legal Background After United States v. Windsor (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The issue of same-sex marriage generates debate on both the federal and state levels. Either legislatively or judicially, same-sex marriage is legal in more than a dozen states. Conversely, many states have statutes and/or constitutional amendments limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. These state-level variations raise questions about the validity of such unions outside the contracted jurisdiction and have bearing on the distribution of state and/or federal benefits. As federal agencies grappled with the interplay of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the distribution of federal marriage-based benefits, questions arose regarding DOMA’s constitutionality and the appropriate standard (strict, intermediate, or rational basis) of review to apply to the statute.

CRS — Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment (September 8, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” This language restricts government’s ability to constrain the speech of citizens. The prohibition on abridgment of the freedom of speech is not absolute. Certain types of speech may be prohibited outright. Some types of speech may be more easily constrained than others. Furthermore, speech may be more easily regulated depending upon the location at which it takes place.

This report provides an overview of the major exceptions to the First Amendment—of the ways that the Supreme Court has interpreted the guarantee of freedom of speech and press to provide no protection or only limited protection for some types of speech.

CRS — Corporate Expatriation, Inversions, and Mergers: Tax Issues (September 3, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Corporate Expatriation, Inversions, and Mergers: Tax Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

News reports in the late 1990s and early 2000s drew attention to a phenomenon sometimes called corporate “inversions” or “expatriations”: instances where U.S. firms reorganize their structure so that the “parent” element of the group is a foreign corporation rather than a corporation chartered in the United States. The main objective of these transactions was tax savings and they involved little to no shift in actual economic activity. Bermuda and the Cayman Islands (countries with no corporate income tax) were the location of many of the newly created parent corporations.

These types of inversions largely ended with the enactment of the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (JOBS Act, P.L. 108-357), which denied the tax benefits of an inversion if the original U.S. stockholders owned 80% or more of the new firm. The Act effectively ended shifts to tax havens where no real business activity took place.

However, two avenues for inverting remained. The Act allowed a firm to invert if it has substantial business operations in the country where the new parent was to be located; the regulations at one point set a 10% level of these business operations. Several inversions using the business activity test resulted in Treasury regulations in 2012 that increased the activity requirement to 25%, effectively closing off this method. Firms could also invert by merging with a foreign company if the original U.S. stockholders owned less than 80% of the new firm.

CRS — Title X (Public Health Service Act) Family Planning Program (September 3, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Title X (Public Health Service Act) Family Planning Program (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The federal government provides grants for voluntary family planning services through the Family Planning Program, Title X of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. §§300 to 300a-6). Enacted in 1970, it is the only domestic federal program devoted solely to family planning and related preventive health services. In 2012, Title X-funded clinics served 4.8 million clients.

Title X is administered through the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although the authorization of appropriations for Title X ended with FY1985, funding for the program has continued through appropriations bills for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (Labor- HHS-Education).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 916 other followers