All CFR Reports

Energy Security

Energy Security

Author: Michael A. Levi

What is energy security? On April 12-13, the Council on Foreign Relations convened academics, policymakers, and industry experts to assess the security implications of the way the world produces and consumes oil and natural gas. The workshop aimed to explore important issues at the intersection of oil, gas, and national security, and identify areas for future research. The first day focused on assessing the state of knowledge on energy and security, while the second explored U.S. policy options going forward. This summary report presents a broad agenda for energy security research that emerged from the meeting.

See more in United States; Energy Policy

How Dangerous Is U.S. Government Debt?

How Dangerous Is U.S. Government Debt?

Author: Francis E. Warnock

The dollar's status as the world's reserve currency has become a facet of U.S. power, allowing the United States to borrow effortlessly and sustain an assertive foreign policy. But the capital inflows associated with the dollar's reserve-currency status have created a vulnerability, too, opening the door to a foreign sell-off of U.S. securities that could drive up U.S. interest rates. In this Center for Geoeconomic Studies Capital Flows Quarterly, Francis E. Warnock argues that a sell-off came close to happening in 2009. How the United States uses this reprieve will affect the nation's ability to borrow for years to come, with broad implications for the sustainability of an active U.S. foreign policy.

See more in Financial Crises; Budget, Debt, and Deficits; United States

A Nuclear-Armed Iran

A Nuclear-Armed Iran

Author: Mitchell B. Reiss

How would an Iranian acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability affect U.S. policy in the Middle East? In this discussion paper, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Mitchell B. Reiss enumerates several strategic choices that would face U.S. regional allies and the adverse implications for U.S. interests.

See more in Proliferation; Iran

Divided They Dally?

Divided They Dally?

Author: Michael Young

How would the Arab states of the Middle East react if Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapons capability? In this Working Paper, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Michael Young explores the possible impact of a nuclear Iran on Arab governments' self-perceptions, relations with Iran, relations with one another, and relations with non-Arab actors in the region such as the United States and Turkey. Young concludes that an Iranian nuclear weapon would threaten to drastically alter the regional status quo, empower Iran and its allies, and provoke sectarian reactions from some Arab states.

See more in Proliferation; Iran

Deterring a Nuclear Iran

Deterring a Nuclear Iran

Author: Kenneth M. Pollack

From a military perspective, what would be required for a containment scheme to successfully deter a nuclear Iran? In this Working Paper, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Kenneth M. Pollack presents formal and informal structures requisite to effectively deter a postnuclear Iran. Pollack's robust recommendations take into consideration important lessons learned during the Cold War.

See more in Proliferation; Iran

Deterrence Misapplied

Deterrence Misapplied

Author: Frederick W. Kagan

Given the nature and structure of its government, is it possible to contain an Iran with nuclear weapons? In this discussion paper, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Frederick W. Kagan explores the applicability of deterrence--from a historic and theoretical perspective--to the Iranian regime. Kagan concludes that for numerous structural and strategic reasons, it is impossible to assess with any confidence that the Islamic Republic with nuclear weapons could be contained or deterred.

See more in Proliferation; Iran

Prime Brokers and Derivatives Dealers

Prime Brokers and Derivatives Dealers

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

Runs by prime-brokerage clients and derivatives counterparties were a central cause of the global financial crisis. These runs precipitated the failures of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers by substantially reducing the broker's liquidity. This Working Paper, the ninth in the Squam Lake series distributed by the Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, argues for higher regulatory liquidity requirements for dealer banks that use assets of clients and counterparties as a source of liquidity.

See more in Financial Crises; Financial Regulation; United States

Harnessing International Institutions to Address Climate Change

Harnessing International Institutions to Address Climate Change

Authors: Katherine Michonski and Michael A. Levi

Most discussions about using international institutions to address climate change focus narrowly on the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, many other international institutions also have a significant role to play in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change. This paper examines the existing climate-related efforts and capabilities, as well as the future potential, of a variety of international institutions, including those that deal with environment, energy, and economics. While there are still major shortfalls, the paper argues that there is significant existing institutional capacity to draw from in addressing climate change.

See more in International Organizations and Alliances; Climate Change

Regulation of Executive Compensation in  Financial Services

Regulation of Executive Compensation in Financial Services

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

Many people argue that inappropriate compensation policies in financial companies contributed to the global financial crisis. Some say the overall level of pay was too high. Others criticize the structure of pay, claiming that contracts for CEOs, traders, and other professionals induced them to pursue excessively risky and short-term strategies. This Working Paper, the eighth in the Squam Lake Working Group series distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, argues that governments should generally not regulate the level of executive compensation at financial firms. Instead, a fraction of compensation should be held back for several years to reduce employees' incentives to take excessive risk.

See more in Financial Crises; Corporate Regulation; United States

Improving Resolution Options for Systemically Relevant Financial Institutions

Improving Resolution Options for Systemically Relevant Financial Institutions

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

This Squam Lake Working Group Paper endorses legislation that would give authorities the necessary powers to effect an orderly resolution of large complex financial institutions. As part of this authority, every such institution should be required to create "living wills" that would help authorities address the difficulties that might arise in a resolution.

See more in Financial Crises; Corporate Regulation; United States

The Gloomy Prospects for World Growth

The Gloomy Prospects for World Growth

Author: Steven Dunaway

In this Center for Geoeconomic Studies Working Paper, Steven Dunaway argues that the world economy faces the prospect of a prolonged period of slower growth. Other sources of demand need to be found to take up the slack left by slower U.S. growth. However, the prospects for this do not look good, as none of the other major economies appear inclined to make the necessary changes in policies to deal with their imbalances and raise their demand.

See more in Financial Crises; International Finance

Understanding the Armed Groups of the Niger Delta

Understanding the Armed Groups of the Niger Delta

Author: Judith Burdin Asuni

Nigeria's underdeveloped but oil-rich Niger Delta region currently is the site of a crippling insurgency. Fueled by a complex mixture of protest, crime, and political corruption, the network of armed groups that create this instability pose serious problems both for Abuja and for oil-importing countries across the globe. This Working Paper provides insights into these militias' origins, characteristics, and interactions with one another.

See more in Nigeria

Regulation of  Retirement Saving

Regulation of Retirement Saving

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

Retirement saving is undergoing a fundamental change as employers shift from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) accounts. This Working Paper, the sixth in the Squam Lake Working Group series distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, analyzes the pros and cons of defined contribution plans and recommends measures that will improve the performance of the nation's retirement saving system.

See more in United States; Financial Crises; Aging

Credit Default Swaps, Clearinghouses, and Exchanges

Credit Default Swaps, Clearinghouses, and Exchanges

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

Credit default swaps (CDS) are contracts that provide protection against the risk of default by borrowers. The failure of one important participant in the CDS market can destabilize the financial system by inflicting significant losses on many trading partners simultaneously. A clearinghouse could in theory reduce counterparty risk by standing between the buyer and seller of protection, insulating the counterparties’ exposure to each other’s default. This Working Paper, the fifth in the Squam Lake Working Group series distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, analyzes the market for credit default swaps and makes specific recommendations about appropriate roles for clearinghouses and about how they should be organized.

See more in United States; Financial Markets; Financial Regulation