Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Poland's Economic Model

Author: Christopher Alessi

Poland has maintained economic growth despite the global financial crisis and eurozone woes, while asserting itself as a leading advocate for greater European integration.

See more in Economic Development; Poland

Venezuela's Chávez Wins Fourth Term

Author: Brianna Lee

Longtime Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez's fourth term as president allows for the continuation of his "socialist revolution," but questions over his health remain a wildcard in assessing Venezuela's future.

See more in Venezuela

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

Understanding the Libor Scandal

Authors: Christopher Alessi and Mohammed Aly Sergie

The manipulation of interbank lending rates by a host of global financial institutions could have significant repercussions for financial markets, consumer loans, and regulatory policy.

See more in United Kingdom; Financial Markets

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