Export-Import Bank of the United States
|Formed||February 2, 1934|
|Agency executive||Fred P. Hochberg, Chairman and President|
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is the official export credit agency of the United States federal government. It was established in 1934 by an executive order, and made an independent agency in the Executive branch by Congress in 1945, for the purposes of financing and insuring foreign purchases of United States goods for customers unable or unwilling to accept credit risk. The mission of the Bank is to create and sustain U.S. jobs by financing sales of U.S. exports to international buyers. The Bank is chartered as a government corporation by the Congress of the United States; it was last chartered for a three-year term in 2012 which will expire in September 2014. Its Charter spells out the Bank's authorities and limitations. Among them is the principle that Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private sector lenders, but rather provides financing for transactions that would otherwise not take place because commercial lenders are either unable or unwilling to accept the political or commercial risks inherent in the deal. Its current chairman and president is Fred P. Hochberg.
- 1 Export-Import Bank
- 2 Offices
- 3 History
- 4 Historically Significant Transactions
- 5 Authorizations in Fiscal Year 2012 by Country
- 6 List of Chairmen and Presidents
- 7 List of Directors
- 8 Support for the Export-Import Bank
- 9 Criticism
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is a government agency which provides a variety of loan, guarantee, and insurance products intended to aid the export of American goods and services. The mission of the Bank is to create and sustain U.S. jobs by financing sales of U.S. exports to international buyers. The Bank is chartered as a government corporation by the Congress of the United States; it was last chartered for a three-year term in 2012. The Charter spells out the Bank's authorities and limitations. Among them is the principle that Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private sector lenders, but rather provides financing for transactions that would otherwise not take place because commercial lenders are either unable or unwilling to accept the political or commercial risk inherent in the deal. Ex-Im Bank's Charter provides that Ex-Im Bank makes available "not less than 20%" of its lending authority to small businesses" although they have often fallen short of the 20% threshold. Generally, its products are available to support export sales for any American export firm regardless of size.In fiscal year 2013 however, 76% of the value of loans and guarantees went to the top 10 recipients. Similar banks, or export credit agencies (ECAs), are operated by 60 foreign countries. Many ECAs agree to conduct their activities by following a set of common rules and principles through their membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); these ECAs are generally in the so-called "developed" countries. The goal is to permit exporters in various countries to compete on the basis of the quality of their goods and services, not on preferential financing terms. Other ECAs, such as the China Exim Bank (in the People's Republic of China), Ex-Im Bank of Russia, Brazil, and India, do not abide by the OECD rules.
The bank has offices in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, McKinney (Dallas), Orange County (California), San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.
The bank was originally organized as a District of Columbia banking corporation by Executive Order 6581 from Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 2, 1934, under the name Export-Import Bank of Washington. The stated goal was "to aid in financing and to facilitate exports and imports and the exchange of commodities between the United States and other Nations or the agencies or nationals thereof", with the immediate goal of making loans to the Soviet Union. Roosevelt created a Second Export-Import Bank of Washington with Executive Order 6638 on March 9, 1934, with the specific aim to aid trade with Cuba. The Bank's first transaction was a $3.8 million loan to Cuba in 1935 for the purchase of U.S. silver ingots. The First and Second Export-Import Banks were combined in 1936 when Congress transferred the obligations of the Second Export-Import Bank to the first. Congress continued the bank as a government agency, using a series of laws between 1935 and 1943 to place it under various government departments, before making it an independent agency on July 31, 1945, with the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945. On March 13, 1968, further legislation changed the name to "Export-Import Bank of the United States". The Government Corporation Control Act of 1945 requires the Bank to be reauthorized by Congress every four to five years. Reauthorizations were approved in 1947, 1951, 1957, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2006, and 2012. Ex-Im Bank became a self-sustaining (self-funding) agency in 2007, though the loans remain backed by the government.
Historically Significant Transactions
The highway runs from Alaska to Chile through 14 countries with important transportation links to nearly all of continental Latin America. From its inception, the Pan-American Highway was seen as a critical element in improving and solidifying relations and trade throughout the Americas. It was originally conceived as part of FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy. The highway was constructed beginning in 1936 with the last phase complete in 1980.
Ex-Im Bank credits and loans supported construction of the Pan-American Highway in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. In Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia Ex-Im Bank supported construction of highway spurs connected to the Pan-American Highway. Ex-Im Bank approved twenty credits to U.S. companies including Caterpillar, Koehring Co., Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing, The Galion Iron Works, and Thew Shovel to help build the highway.
Constructed between 1937 and 1938, the 717-mile Burma Road links Lashio in present-day Myanmar (previously Burma) to Kunming in Yunnan Province, China. Construction of the road began in 1937 at the start of the second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945). With Japan able to control port access in China and most of Southeast Asia, the Chinese built a road that would allow transportation of men and goods from a railhead at Rangoon that had access to Burma’s ports. From 1939 to 1942 the Burma Road served as a lifeline for military goods and support in the fight against the Axis powers in the Far East.
The $25 million credit approved by Ex-Im Bank in December 1938 was crucial in ensuring that the supply route remained open by providing the transportation vehicles and support materiel to operate the new road and by providing China with purchasing power during WWII. An additional $20 million to the Universal Trading Corporation was approved in 1940. A 1939 journal article in Foreign Affairs noted that China used part of the $25 million to purchase 2,000 three-ton trucks from Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors.
Post-WWII Reconstruction and the Marshall Plan
Ex-Im Bank played a critical role in the years between the end of Lend-Lease (September 1945) and the beginning of the Marshall Plan and the World Bank’s first authorizations (May 1947 – 1948). At the end of WWII, it was recognized that the U.S. did not have a credit facility capable of handling the demand that would result from the cessation of hostilities. One of the major rationales behind the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, the basis of Ex-Im’s current charter document, was the necessity to dramatically increase Ex-Im’s lending capacity to adequately respond to Europe’s post-war reconstruction needs. The 1945 Ex-Im Annual Report predicated Ex-Im’s role in the immediate post-WWII period: “the Export-Import Bank was to be the principle source of long-term dollar loans for an extended period of time.” This assertion was based on the lack of interest by private capital in lending to foreign government buyers and delays in ratification of the Articles of Agreement for the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 increased lending authority from $750 million to $3.5 billion, almost a fourfold increase to help address these shortfalls.
In 1945 and 1946 credit was offered to France, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Italy, Ethiopia, Greece, Poland and Austria to purchase equipment, facilities, and services from the United States. The financing was designed to aid reconstruction of the nations and to repair their import and export capability through the purchase of new machinery, currency exchange, and improvements and repairs to infrastructure and transportation systems.
First Credits to Post-Soviet Nations
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, U.S. companies were able to freely conduct business with Eastern Europe for the first time since the end of WWII. Ex-Im Bank was one of the first financial institutions to provide financing for exports to the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the newly independent nations that emerged after 1991. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush waived the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which had officially closed off trade with communist countries since 1975. This waiver opened all Ex-Im Bank guarantee and insurance programs to U.S. companies wanting to do business with the Soviet Union and many other former communist countries.
Ex-Im Bank reopened for business in Czechoslovakia in March 1990. On January 25, 1991, Ex-Im Bank approved the first transaction to Czechoslovakia since 1947. Financed by First Interstate Bank of Los Angeles, CA, the guarantee allowed Tonak Hat Company to purchase computers from a small U.S. company, Digital Equipment Corporation of Massachusetts. Since 1991, Ex-Im Bank has supported exports to 25 of the nations that emerged after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Authorizations in Fiscal Year 2012 by Country
|Argentina||Dominican Republic||Indonesia||New Zealand||Sri Lanka|
|Benin||Estonia||Jamaica||Pakistan||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Cameroon||France||Korea, Republic of||Peru||United Arab Emirates|
|Cayman Islands||Germany||Liberia||Poland||United States of America|
|Colombia||Guatemala||Mauritania||Saudi Arabia||Virgin Islands (British)|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of||Honduras||Mexico||Serbia||Zambia|
|Costa Rica||Hong Kong||Monaco||Sierra Leone|
|Czech Republic||Iceland||Morocco||South Africa|
List of Chairmen and Presidents
- R. Walton Moore, (Chairman) 1934-1941
- George N. Peek, (President) 1934-1935
- R. Walton Moore, (Chairman) 1934-1941
- Warren Lee Pierson, (President) 1936-1945
- Jesse H. Jones, (Chairman) 1941-1943
- Leo T. Crowley, (Chairman) 1943-1945
- William McC. Martin, Jr., (Chairman) 1946-1949
- Herbert E. Gaston, (Chairman) 1949-1953
- Glen E. Edgerton, (Chairman) 1953-1953
- Glen E. Edgerton, (Chairman) 1954-1955
- Lynn U. Strambaugh, (Vice Chairman) 1954-1960
- Samuel C. Waugh, (Chairman) 1955-1961
- Tom Killefer, (Vice Chairman) 1960-1962
- Harold F. Linder, (Chairman) 1961-1968
- Walter C. Sauer, (Vice Chairman) 1962-1976
- Henry Kearns, (Chairman) 1969-1973
- William J. Casey, (Chairman) 1974-1976
- Stephen M. DuBrul, Jr., (Chairman) 1976-1977
- Delio E. Gianturco, (Vice Chairman) 1976-1977
- John L. Moore, Jr., (Chairman) 1977-1981
- H. K. Allen, (Vice Chairman) 1978-1981
- William H. Draper III, (Chairman) 1981-1986
- Charles E. Lord, (Vice Chairman) 1982-1983
- John A. Bohn, Jr., (Vice Chairman) 1984-1986
- John A. Bohn, Jr., (Chairman) 1986-1989
- William F. Ryan, (Vice Chairman) 1986-1989
- John D. Macomber, (Chairman) 1989-1992
- Eugene K. Lawson, (Vice Chairman) 1989-1993
- Rita M. Rodriguez, (Acting Chairman) 1993-1993
- Kenneth D. Brody, (Chairman) 1993-1995
- Martin A. Kamarck, (Vice Chairman) 1993-1996
- Martin A. Kamarck, (Chairman) 1996-1997
- Rita M. Rodriguez, (Acting Chairman) 1997-1997
- James A. Harmon, (Chairman) 1997-2001
- Jackie M. Clegg, (Vice Chairman) 1997-2001
- John Robson, (Chairman) 2001-2002
- Eduardo Aguirre, (Vice Chairman) 2001-2003
- Philip Merrill, (Chairman) 2002-2005
- April Foley, (Vice Chairman) 2003-2005
- James H. Lambright, (Chairman) 2005-2009
- Linda M. Conlin, (Vice Chairman 2006-2009)
- Wanda Felton, (Vice Chairman) 2011-2013
- John A. McAdams, (Acting Vice Chairman) 2013
- Fred P. Hochberg, (Chairman) 2009–Present
List of Directors
- William McC. Martin, Jr. 1945-1946
- Clarence E. Gauss 1946-1952
- Wilson L. Townsend 1952-1953
- Hawthorne Arey 1949-1953
- Hawthorne Arey 1954-1961
- George A. Blowers 1954-1961
- Vance Brand 1954-1959
- James S. Bush 1959-1963
- George Docking 1961-1964
- Charles M. Meriwether 1961-1965
- Elizabeth S. May 1964-1969
- Hobart Taylor 1965-1968
- Tom Lilley 1965-1972
- John C. Clark 1969-1976
- R. Alex McCullough 1969-1977
- Mitchell P. Kobelinski 1973-1976
- Margaret W. Kahliff 1976-1982
- Donald E. Stingel 1977-1981
- Thibaut de Saint Phalle 1977-1981
- Richard W. Heldridge 1982-1988
- Rita M. Rodriguez 1982-1999
- James E. Yonge 1982-1984
- Richard H. Hughes 1985-1985
- Simon C. Fireman 1986-1989
- Richard Houseworth 1988-1991
- Constance B. Harriman 1991-1994
- Cecil B. Thompson 1991-1994
- Maria Luisa Haley 1994-1999
- Julie Belaga 1994-1999
- Dan Renberg 1999-2003
- Dorian Vanessa Weaver 1999-2003
- Max Cleland 2003-2007
- Linda M. Conlin 2004-2006
- J. Joseph Grandmaison 2006-2009
- Bijan R. Kian 2006-2011
- Diane Farrell 2007-2011
- Larry Walther 2011-2013
- Wanda Felton 2011-2013
- Fred P. Hochberg 2009–Present
- Sean Robert Mulvaney 2011–Present
- Patricia M. Loui 2011–Present
Support for the Export-Import Bank
Supporters claim that the bank is especially focused on trying to help small and medium size businesses expand their exporting capabilities. CEO and President of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jay Timmons stated: "The Ex-Im Bank plays a critical role in manufacturer's ability to export to new markets and keep up with growing global competition. The Bank supports nearly 290,000 export related jobs and each year is helping more and more small and medium-sized manufacturers grow their businesses and hire new workers. The numbers tell the real story. More than 85% of all Ex-Im transactions directly benefit small business exporters - the economic engine that powers our economy and job creation."
Additionally, in a report compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Oscar Ramirez, the President of a small business offering various products to the petroleum industry, gave his support for the Export-Import Bank: “We find the Ex-Im Bank very useful. The commercial banks will not lend us $1.7 million without the Ex-Im loan guarantee, and without the line of credit we would not be in business. All receivables are foreign and no commercial bank will lend against those receivables. We export tanks, dispensers, and signage for gas stations in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. We employ 35 people – but couldn’t do it without the Bank.”
Jenny Fulton, the owner of Miss Jenny's Pickles, a small North Carolina food manufacturer, used Ex-Im's export-credit insurance to export her pickles to China. After only 3 years of business, Fulton and her business partner have expanded their business to 1,000 stores in the U.S. and 40 stores in China. By putting more emphasis on exporting in China she expects her export sales to increase by 400%. She comments that: "Ex-Im Bank's export-credit insurance enables us to offer terms to our foreign buyers, so they don't have to pay for the whole order at once...Our export sales have permitted us to hire our first full-time employee and four part-time employees, and with the new orders from China supports by Ex-Im's Express Insurance we hope to turn those part-time jobs into full-timers by the end of the year." Fulton's story was featured on a segment of the CBS-TV News program "60 Minutes".
Vice President of Finance from Air Tractor, David Ickert, has said that Air Tractor believes that, “the Export-Import Bank is essential to exports of U.S. products. For instance, in FY2011, Ex-Im was involved with 3,751 transactions that supported nearly $42 billion in exports from more than 3,600 U.S. companies. Of those transactions, 3,247 – 87% - were with small-business exporters. All of those transactions added up to $6 billion in Ex-Im financing in FY2011. The Ex-Im Bank Pays for itself (through the fees it charges to foreign buyers) and – above and beyond that – returns money to the U.S. treasury. From 2006 to 2010, Ex-Im Bank returned $3.4 billion to the Treasury. Ex-Im has maintained its incredibly low default rate (1.5%) through the recession and through several years of record growth.” In addition, on behalf of Air Tractor, Ickert said: “Exports have definitely meant jobs in this rural part of Texas, and Ex-Im Bank has helped us provide the export financing to increase our exports and break into new markets.”
President Obama said, during the Bank’s reauthorization battle in May, 2012, that the Export-Import Bank plays a very important role in reaching his goal of doubling exports over 5 years. At the reauthorization ceremony President Obama stated: “We’re helping thousands of businesses sell more of their products and services overseas, in the process, we’re helping them create jobs here at home. And we’re doing it at no extra cost to the taxpayer.”
The Bank has come under criticism for favoring special interests ahead of those of the U.S. taxpayer. These interests include that of heavily subsidized corporations such as Boeing or Enron as well as those of well-connected foreign governments and nationals (such as a 1996 $120 million low-interest loan to the China National Nuclear Power Corporation (CNNP)). 65% of loan guarantees over 2007 and 2008 went to companies purchasing Boeing aircraft. In 2012, the Bank's loan guarantees became even more skewed, with 82 percent of them going to Boeing customers.
Doug Bandow a Forbes contributor writes, “The agency piously claims not to provide subsidies since it charges fees and interest, but it exists only to offer business a better credit deal than is available in the marketplace. The Bank uses its ability to borrow at government rates to provide loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees, and loan insurance.”
The claims that the bank earns a profit every year are also a point of contention. The debate stems from the banks accounting methods which many argue do not accurately gauge the cost of the bank. Using a fair-value estimate, which incorporates market risk, finds “This simple approach – which is based on a method outlined in a National Bureau of Economic Research paper by Debbie Lucas of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – suggests that the Ex-Im bank’s long-term loan guarantee program actually provides guarantees at a loss for taxpayers, not a profit. Moreover, this analysis reveals that the Ex-Im bank’s loan guarantees are made at sufficiently generous terms that borrowers receive subsidies of about 1% of the amount borrowed. That translates into a $200 million cost for taxpayers on the $21 billion in loans that the bank will make in 2012.”
In February 2009, the Ex-Im Bank settled a seven-year-long legal proceeding brought by Friends of the Earth, other NGOs, and various American cities. The plaintiffs claimed that the Ex-Im Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provided financial assistance to oil and other fossil fuel projects without first evaluating the projects' global warming impacts. In 2005, the plaintiffs were granted legal standing to sue these federal bodies. The landmark decision is the first time that a federal court has specifically granted legal standing for a lawsuit exclusively challenging the federal government's failure to evaluate the impacts of its actions on the Earth's climate and U.S. citizens. In its settlement agreement, the Ex-Im Bank agrees to evaluate the carbon dioxide emissions as part of its determination for qualification for a project. However, Ex-Im Bank fossil fuel financing and associated greenhouse gas emissions grew swiftly after the settlement agreement, coinciding with Chairman Hochberg's tenure. Between 2009 and 2012, Ex-Im Bank fossil fuel financing grew from $2.56 billion to nearly $10 billion.
Environmental groups say that under the Obama Administration the Ex-Im Bank is on a "fossil fuel binge," which “makes a mockery” of President Obama’s stated commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. In December, 2009, Ex-Im Bank Directors approved $3 billion in financing for the ExxonMobil-led Papua New Guinea Liquid Gas project in December, 2009, just as President Obama flew to climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. The project has reportedly sparked violence and in April, 2012, the Papua New Guinea government called in troops to quell opposition from villagers after a landslide linked to a quarry that had been used by the project killed an estimated 25 people.
In 2010, environmental groups criticized the Ex-Im Bank Directors for approving $917 million in financing for the 3,960 megawatt Sasan coal-fired power plant in India after initially rejecting the project on climate change grounds. Environmental groups say that in reversing the decision the agency’s Chairman, Fred Hochberg and Board of Directors "caved in" to political pressure from Wisconsin politicians. In 2011, several environmental groups protested at Export-Import Bank headquarters, unsuccessfully urging Chairman Hochberg and Board of Directors to reject $805 million in financing for the 4,800 megawatt Kusile coal-fired power plant in South Africa, which environmental groups say is the largest carbon emitting project in the agency's history, which will not alleviate poverty but will emit excessive local air pollution which health experts say causes damage the respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems and deaths resulting from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
In 2012 three environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against Chairman Hochberg and the Ex-Im Bank for the agency’s financing of two liquid natural gas projects being constructed inside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The lawsuit alleges that Ex-Im Bank financing for the projects violates U.S. environmental and cultural heritage laws. Conversely the Ex-Im Bank has also faced scrutiny for pursuing green energy projects. The Ex-Im bank provided 10 million dollars of loan guarantees to Solyndra in 2011, a company which ultimately went bankrupt. More recently the bank authorized 33.6 million dollars in loans to Abengoa, a Spanish Green energy company on which former Governor Bill Richardson sits on the board. As of May 2014, Richardson was also listed as a member of the advisory committee of the Export Import Bank. On the campaign trail in 2008, then candidate Obama called the bank “little more than a fund for corporate welfare”
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- Veronique De Rugy. "Ex-Im: A Big Double-Dipping Opportunity for Green-Energy Firms". Retrieved 2014-05-22.
- "Obama Call the Export Import Bank "Little more than a fund for corporate welfare"".
- Assessing Reform at the Export-Import Bank: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade of the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, June 13, 2013
- Robert Higgs "Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society." Oakland CA: The Independent Institute, 2004
- The Use of Environmental and Social Criteria in Export Credit Agencies’ Practices, by Markus Knigge et al. Published in 2003 by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit - GTZ