Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Energy Sector

The popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology presents both challenges and opportunities to the energy sector. As interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has increased, the energy demand to support cryptocurrency “mining” activities has also increased. The increased energy demand—when localized—can exceed the available power capacity and increase customers’ electricity… Continue Reading Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Energy Sector

Addressing the Long-Run Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches

The growth of the national debt, which is considered unsustainable under current policies, continues to be one of the central issues of domestic federal policymaking. Addressing a federal budget deficit that is unsustainable over the long run involves choices. Fundamentally, the issues require deciding what government goods, services, and transfers are worth paying taxes for.… Continue Reading Addressing the Long-Run Deficit: A Comparison of Approaches

Advanced Nuclear Reactors: Technology Overview and Current Issues

An “advanced nuclear reactor” is defined in legislation enacted in 2018 as “a nuclear fission reactor with significant improvements over the most recent generation of nuclear fission reactors” or a reactor using nuclear fusion (P.L. 115-248). Such reactors include LWR designs that are far smaller than existing reactors, as well as concepts that would use… Continue Reading Advanced Nuclear Reactors: Technology Overview and Current Issues

Iran Sanctions

Successive Administrations have used sanctions extensively to try to change Iran’s behavior. Sanctions have a substantial effect on Iran’﷿s economy and on some major decisions, but little or no effect on Iran’﷿s regional malign activities. During 2012-2015, when the global community was relatively united in pressuring Iran, Iran’﷿s economy shrank as its crude oil exports… Continue Reading Iran Sanctions

U.S.-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues and Implications

The economic and trade relationship with Mexico is of interest to U.S. policymakers because of Mexico’s proximity to the United States, the extensive trade and investment relationship under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the conclusion of the NAFTA renegotiations and the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and the strong cultural and economic ties that… Continue Reading U.S.-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues and Implications

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade… Continue Reading Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

LNG as a Maritime Fuel: Prospects and Policy

The combination of growing liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies and new requirements for less polluting fuels in the maritime shipping industry has heightened interest in LNG as a maritime fuel. The use of LNG as an engine (“bunker”) fuel in shipping is also drawing attention from federal agencies and is beginning to emerge as an… Continue Reading LNG as a Maritime Fuel: Prospects and Policy

International Trade and Finance: Overview and Issues for the 116th Congress

During his first two years in office, President Trump has focused on reevaluating many U.S. international trade and economic policies and relationships. The President’s focus on these issues could continue over the next two years. Broad policy debates during the 116th Congress may include the impact of tariffs, trade and trade agreements on the U.S.… Continue Reading International Trade and Finance: Overview and Issues for the 116th Congress

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

Normally, the Fed conducts monetary policy by setting a target for the federal funds rate – the rate at which banks borrow and lend reserves on an overnight basis. It meets its target through open market operations, financial transactions traditionally involving U.S. Treasury securities. Beginning in 2007, the federal funds target was reduced from 5.25%… Continue Reading Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions

U.S. Trade with Major Trading Partners

U.S. world trade has grown steadily over the past decade. In 2017, the United States exported $2.4 trillion in goods and services and imported $2.9 trillion. Since 2009, when trade flows declined sharply in the midst of the financial crisis, U.S. exports have grown—in nominal terms—48.5%, while U.S. imports have grown 47.6%. More broadly, since… Continue Reading U.S. Trade with Major Trading Partners