2013 April FIRE Policy News

Issue Date: 
April, 2013
Newspaper PDF: 

The April issue of FIRE (Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate) Policy News reports Standard & Poor’s is the only credit rating agency to have downgraded U.S. government debt – and the only credit rating agency to be sued by the government over its ratings. Coincidence?

Also in this issue:

  • Five years after the housing collapse of 2008, the U.S. government’s role in the mortgage market could have taxpayers on the hook for another multibillion-dollar rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Some local governments in Illinois have doubled and even tripled taxes over the past decade to make payments on alternate revenue bonds that taxpayers were promised would cost them nothing. Projects ranging from new city halls to professional sports stadiums have been funded with the bonds. Now two state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make issuing such bonds much more difficult.
  • Officials at Russia’s central bank recently described moves to devalue currencies as monetary war. Brazil’s government has been warning about it for quite a while. Chile’s Finance Minister cried out against the devaluation of the currency in rich countries. But it may be too late: Emerging countries themselves are buying U.S. dollars frantically in order to prop up the greenback and push down their own currencies.
  • The German central bank surprised markets around the world in January by announcing it will repatriate a sizable portion of its gold bullion reserves held in France and the United States. To many, the news from the world’s second-largest holder of gold signaled a growing, if clandestine, mistrust among central banks, possibly fueled by diverging policy goals.
  • Federal departments and agencies spent $61 billion to enforce business regulations in fiscal year 2012, nearly $11 billion of it just to enforce economic regulations, according to the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University in St. Louis and the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
  • Capital gains tax rates in the United States are among the highest in the world, causing a drain on the economy and putting the economy at a competitive disadvantage, according to a new analysis by the Tax Foundation.

Newspaper Articles in this Issue