Friday, August 14, 2015

So Eximbank is on holidays -- for ever!

Believe it or not, the GOP (Congress and the Senate) in their eternal wisdom have decided that the U.S. Import Export Bank is a luxury that America can no longer afford, and so on June 30th it was shut down as its mandate expired without being renewed !  

As a whole the US economy will not be impacted -- at least until Boeing and its buddies decide to move operations elsewhere, because international trade is such a small percentage of the US economy (less than 25% of GDP; compared to more than 50% in Canada).  However, some high paying high tech job (the kind the Republicans clearly hate) could well be in jeopardy.  If Boeing decided that more of its aircraft can be built outside the US, and gain access to other credit agencies.  Until now, Boeing has been very careful that at least 51% of the value added in its new aircraft are "American" just so that it can qualify for Eximbank's loan guarantee program.  Now that the loan guarantee or "off the table for the foreseeable future" it would seem that Boeing could easily shift the work to other shores (like Canada, Korea and Japan) already substantial partners in the building of its new aircraft.  

However, Boeing is not the only company affected here.  Many smaller companies depend on Eximbank for numerous services that financial institutions are simply not able to provide;   Eximbank provided completion guarantees, provided L/C facilities that allowed American companies to sell their good in "difficult markets".  None of these services are provided by commercial banks because its simply not economical (and its not a question of price -- well maybe, but if the fee has to be more than 100% of the underlying service...), the problem is that banks are not equipped to provide this type of services.   

The GOP's logic is that commercial banks will take over that job "tomorrow morning"  which is a huge misrepresentation of the bank's abilities.  First off, banks have zero interest in arranging long dated loans -- as those required to finance capital assets.  In fact, the Basel system makes these loans prohibitively expensive for the lenders (in terms of capital) reducing the interest in providing such facilities -- and its not really a price issue is the amount of capital tied down for long periods of time, issue.  

The whole situation is almost unbelievable, in fact when mentioning this to friends recently their first reaction was that the President would over turn this mess, but in fact he doesn't have the ability to do anything.  In effect, on June 30th, Eximbank mandate expired, there's literally nothing to "renew" because in essence Eximbank has ceased to exit.

I get the the GOP and the Tea Party hate Obama & friends, but it takes a serious lack of judgement to kill an institution that actually doesn't cost the American tax payers all that much.  Up here in Canada our export import bank has been operating from its initial capitalisation, got a boost about 25 years ago, when the LDC debt problem emerged, but since then, it has only used "Canada's credit" and actually no losses (it has generated a profit year after year) over that time.

Nuts, just nuts!


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