Don’t Reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank

Here’s a letter I wrote to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that appears in today’s paper:

The Post-Gazette’s editorial board calls on Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank because the agency supposedly nets the government a profit (“Save the Ex-Im Bank: A Frugal Congress Must Keep a Revenue Generator”). 

This is misleading for two reasons.

First, Ex-Im’s self-reported profits are largely the result of creative accounting practices. A recent Congressional Budget Office study using industry-standard fair-value accounting rules (“Fair-Value Estimates of the Cost of Selected Federal Credit Programs for 2015-2024,” May 2014) found that Ex-Im loses an average of $200 million per year.

Second, even if Ex-Im did make a $675 million profit last year, this is less than two-tenths of 1 percent of last year’s $483 billion budget deficit. 

If Ex-Im’s goal is to raise revenue, it is spectacularly ineffective.

Congress should let this corruption-enabling program expire and turn its attention elsewhere.

Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.