The Export-Import Bank, also known as the Ex-Im Bank, announced today that it returned $675 million to the Treasury Department. Because it’s a government agency, it’s technically not a profit.
So what is this government-run bank, exactly?
“We exist solely to help support U.S. jobs when U.S. companies are selling overseas,” said Ex-Im chair Fred Hochberg in an interview with Kai Ryssdal.
That support comes in the form of loans to businesses large and small, which drew Congressional scrutiny this year. Republicans called Ex-Im Bank loans a subsidy on outsourcing U.S. jobs. Plus, they said, the bank is unnecessary in light of private sector funds for exporters.
While 98 percent of exporters seek private financing, Hochberg insists that the Ex-Im Bank has a role to play for those that remain.
“We’re Plan B,” Hochberg said, adding, “We fill a gap when private sector is unable, unwilling, or market conditions are just too risky for them.”
Even Boeing uses the Ex-Im Bank. Supporters say this is to keep up with similar export banks in other countries that would otherwise have a big competitive advantage. So while Boeing could easily survive without the Ex-Im, it makes keeping up with the Joneses (in this case, Airbus), that much easier.
As for how much it can spend on loans, Congress sets a budget for the bank, but doesn’t allocate extra money for its operation. The bank is self-supported, from a portion of its earnings, like those announced today. Hochberg stressed this was another reason why the bank should be seen in an apolitical light.
“There are no Democratic jobs, there are no Republican jobs. There are jobs in every state that are dependent on exports.”
Listen to the full conversation in the audio player above.
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