Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Income inequality is generating high-level attention and debate in the United States, but the causes are complex and the policy remedies so far are modest, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Poverty

The Role of the European Central Bank

Author: Christopher Alessi

As Europe's central bank moves aggressively to staunch the continent's crisis, some critics are asking if it has exceeded its mandate by stepping into the breach left open by elected leaders.

See more in Europe; Monetary Policy

Renewing America

Renewing America

The Dodd-Frank Act

Author: Steven J. Markovich

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank"), signed into law in July 2010, is one of the most significant regulatory reform measures since the Great Depression.

See more in United States; Financial Regulation

Greek Elections and the Eurozone's Future

Author: Christopher Alessi

Greek elections this weekend could render a verdict on the country's eurozone future, with analysts fearing serious consequences for the global economy, says this CFR Backgrounder.

See more in Greece; Elections

Author: Steven J. Markovich

In the face of persistently high unemployment, policymakers and workers look to innovation and entrepreneurship to create new jobs. This Backgrounder discusses how entrepreneurs create and finance the startups that power U.S. job growth, and the ramifications of policies such as the JOBS Act.

See more in United States; Entrepreneurship; Financial Markets

Combating Maritime Piracy

Authors: Christopher Alessi and Stephanie Hanson

A surge in pirate attacks off the Somali coast in recent years has prompted the deployment of an international coalition of navies. But experts say that military force alone cannot address the underlying issue of failed Somali governance.

See more in Somalia; Piracy

Campaign 2012

Campaign 2012

U.S. Trade Policy

Authors: Christopher Alessi and Robert McMahon

Trade accounts for an increasing portion of the U.S. economy, and the Obama administration has embraced a ramped up export strategy. But debate persists over the merits of a vigorous free trade agenda.

See more in United States; Trade

Renewing America

Renewing America

U.S. Rail Infrastructure

Author: Elizabeth Dovell

Rail infrastructure is a critical component of a transportation network capable of helping the United States compete in global markets. Efforts to expand and modernize U.S. rail, particularly to include high-speed trains, are under debate as lawmakers weigh costs and benefits.

See more in Infrastructure; United States

The Eurozone in Crisis

Author: Christopher Alessi

The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed.

See more in Financial Crises; EU