Opinion

U.S. taxpayers subsidizing state-owned companies through Export-Import Bank

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Timothy P. Carney,Taxes,Lobbying,Subsidies,Aircraft Carriers

Should the U.S. government be propping up state-owned enterprises overseas? Should the U.S. business lobby be lobbying for this dynamic?

I'm at the Export-Import Bank Annual Conference in D.C. today and tomorrow. The second panel of the day featured Emilio Lozoya Austin, CEO of Pemex, the oil company owned by the Mexican government. Austin said Pemex is "Ex-Im's largest client," and Ex-Im is Pemex's largest financier.

Austin considers his company a client of a U.S.-taxpayer-backed agency. That means U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing a Mexican oil company. But more to the point, we're subsidizing the Mexican government. Further, we're propping up a Mexican economic policy that includes state ownership of the biggest companies.

At the conference, I also picked up Trade Finance magazine and quickly spotted an item headlined "US Ex-Im and Investec seal Boeing deal."

Boeing, of course, is the largest beneficiary of Ex-Im subsidies, accounting for a majority of the agency's long-term loan guarantees. Investec is a South African Bank. Ex-Im has issued a loan guarantee to Investec for its financing of a Boeing sale to Air India. Air India is a state-owned airline, which competes with privately held airlines in the U.S.

In my column on Ex-Im's subsidies for private jets, I noted that Ex-Im gave a direct loan to a state-owned Chinese bank -- which happened to be the largest bank in the world -- so that the Chinese would buy private jets made in America.

Many of Ex-Im's deals subsidize state-owned buyers and backstop state-owned foreign banks. This doesn't seem like the promotion of capitalism.

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