The latest version of CS is PS CS4 I believe.
I have CS 4, and I believe that any CS version of PS will "outperform" PS elements.
I say probably because I have PSE 5 and in that version you're not able to create actions and the ability to run actions is very limited. I don't know if that has changed for the latest version, 7 I think. I haven't used Elements for quite some time.
I currently have PS CS3 and I'm able to create my own actions as well as install and run actions made by other people such PanosFX and The Dom.
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Here's my thought. The real key is the payback for the learning curve. If you use the editor every day or at least a few times per week the pay back will be there. If you use it a few times per month, the pay back won't be there. The "experts" say PSE of today is as powerful as PhotoShop of only a few years ago. If you need and will use the extra power of PS, get it, but all that power can get in the way, too.
I'm now on CS3, but I could swear its abilities with Actions aren't all that different from the first CS. My memory could, of course, be quite faulty on this point.
With every release, elements becomes more powerfull, but the learning curve is much shorter than the full blown photopshop.
As stated earlier, there are third party vendors that provide add-on's for Elements. A great example is PanosFX (http://www.panosfx.com) They have modified actions to work in elements.
There are also forums just for elements, a good one is http://www.elementsvillage.com
Nikon D70 & D90
Windows 7 & Adobe Elements 9 & Producer 4.5
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