Other Reports

Various reports from CFR, posted at the discretion of CFR's president and director of studies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Systemic Regulator for Financial Markets

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

Financial regulations in almost all countries are designed to ensure the soundness of individual institutions, principally commercial banks, against the risk of loss on their assets. This focus on individual firms ignores critical interactions between institutions and can also cause regulators to overlook important changes in the overall financial system. The solution: One regulatory organization in each country should be responsible for overseeing the health and stability of the overall financial system. This Working Paper, the fourth in the Squam Lake Working Group series distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, argues that the central bank should be charged with this important new responsibility.

See more in Financial Regulation; Financial Markets; Global

The Evolution and Future of Donor Assistance for HIV/AIDS

Authors: Kammerle Schneider and Laurie Garrett

This Working Paper, a contribution to the aids2031 project, focuses on the future of donor financing for HIV prevention and treatment programs and makes recommendations for what the donor community and national governments can do now to build a foundation that ensures steady, long-term funding for HIV/AIDS and alleviates the impact of future challenges.

See more in Foreign Aid; Global; Diseases, Infectious

An Expedited Resolution Mechanism for Distressed Financial Firms: Regulatory Hybrid Securities

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

This Working Paper, the third in the Squam Lake Working Group series distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, recommends support for a new regulatory hybrid security that will expedite the recapitalization of distressed financial companies. The new instrument resembles long-term debt in normal times, but converts to equity when the financial system and the issuing bank are both under financial stress. The regulatory hybrid security the authors envision would be transparent, less costly to taxpayers, and more effective than the ad hoc measures taken in the current crisis.

See more in Financial Crises

Reforming Capital Requirements for Financial Institutions

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

This Working Paper, the second in a series from the Squam Lake Working Group distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, argues that regulators consider systemic effects when setting bank capital requirements. Everything else the same, capital requirements should be proportionately higher for larger banks, banks that hold more illiquid assets, and banks that finance more of their operations with short-term debt. But capital requirements are not free. When designing capital requirements that address systemic concerns, regulators must weigh the costs such requirements impose on banks during good times against the benefit of having more capital in the financial system when a crisis strikes.

See more in Global; Financial Markets; Financial Regulation

A New Information Infrastructure for Financial Markets

Author: Squam Lake Working Group on Financial Regulation

Information about prices and quantities of assets lies at the heart of well-functioning capital markets. In the current financial crisis, it has become clear that many important actors—both firms and regulatory agencies—have not had sufficient information. Distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, this Working Paper proposes a new regulatory regime for gathering and disseminating financial market information. The authors argue that government regulators need a new infrastructure to collect and analyze adequate information from large (systemically important) financial institutions. This new information framework would bolster the government's ability to foresee, contain, and, ideally, prevent disruptions to the overall financial services industry.

See more in United States; Financial Markets; Digital Infrastructure

War About Terror

Author: Daniel B. Prieto

Seven years after 9/11, there is still no durable framework for effectively securing the United States against terrorism while also upholding its values. This Working Paper by Daniel B. Prieto calls on President Obama and Congress to engage these issues in a bipartisan fashion and craft comprehensive long-term counterterrorism policies that reaffirm the U.S. commitment to core values; only then will the United States be able to develop the kind of foreign policy necessary to meet the modern terrorist threat.

See more in United States; Terrorism and the Law