Recent CRS reports

Recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports from Open CRS:

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues, RL33341 (pdf, 16pp/120kB), May 15, 2008

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was established in 1975 by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA, P.L. 94-163) in response to the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo. CRS discusses its history, the acquisition of crude oil for the SPR, drawdown authorities, and when the SPR should be used. EPCA authorizes drawdown of the SPR if the President finds a "severe energy supply interruption," which is deemed to exist if three condition are met: If "(a) an emergency situation exists and there is a significant reduction in supply which is of significant scope and duration; (b) a severe increase in the price of petroleum products has resulted from such emergency situation; and (c) such price increase is likely to cause a major adverse impact on the national economy."

Basel II in the United States: Progress Toward a Workable Framework, RL34485 (pdf, 10pp/164kB), May 14, 2008

The report begins with a capsule history of the Basel capital accords--international agreements that determine the minimum amounts of capital financial institutions must hold. Basel I was adopted in 1988 by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and in the last decade came to be viewed as insufficient because banks could "game the system." Basel II was published in 2004 and updated in 2005. Basel II has 3 pillars: (1) minimum capital requirements, (2) supervisory review, and (3) public disclosure. In the United States, the 11 largest banks will be "core" Basel II banks, and the remaining banks may continue to use the Basel I framework.

Evaluating the Potential for a Recession in 2008, RL34484 (pdf, 24pp/152kB), May 13, 2008

CRS cites 3 current recessionary pressures: the housing bust, liquidity crunch, and energy shock. To counter these events, Congress has enacted an economic stimulus package (pdf, P.L. 110-185), and the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates and increased direct lending to financial institutions. Despite these measures, according to the report, private sector forecasters peg the chance of a recession in 2008 at 60%.

See earlier FR post, Recession - who decides? 1.30.08

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