GE’s Ex-Im Scare Story Further Debunked

Earlier this week, I wrote that GE is moving 500 jobs overseas as a direct result of the Export-Import Bank’s expiration. A correction is in order—from GE, not from me.

As it turns out, 400 of those jobs did not exist in the first place. Multiple sources confirm this.

The Washington Post’s Catherine Ho:

Those 400 jobs do not currently exist, but that is the number of jobs GE would create in France if it wins pending deals that Coface has agreed to help finance.

The Heritage Foundation’s Diane Katz:

Contrary to the hyper headlines, the 400 jobs that Greenville supposedly will “lose” don’t even exist.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University’s Veronique de Rugy:

G.E. doesn’t always make such noise about “moving jobs abroad.” After all, it already has a large workforce overseas. Should Americans be upset about those jobs, too?

In particular, Veronique’s entire post is worth reading, and makes several other important points. As for the 100 jobs that apparently are moving overseas: rather than one sixth of one percent of GE’s workforce moving overseas, the corrected figure is closer to one thirtieth of one percent. One might as well put a GE logo next to the dictionary definition of “hyperbole.”

But that’s still 100 jobs, and as many as 100 families affected, assuming GE doesn’t eventually have to correct that figure, too. Even that isn’t necessarily a bad thing on net. Because the Export-Import Bank is not currently making new loans, investors now have that much more capital they can put into projects which might create more and better jobs, and more value for consumers.

I don’t mean to be too harsh on GE. It is a solid company which makes quality products. Maybe some of this newly freed capital will go to them anyway? It just might. But that’s a decision for investors, not Washington.

If investors choose to invest in other, less politically-connected companies, then deserving entrepreneurs will benefit—and so will consumers, and so will those companies’ employees. Either way, Ex-Im’s expiration is good for America’s workers and consumers. This is true whether it affects GE positively or negatively. As much as politicians love to be pro-business, it is pro-market policies that actually benefit people. These are two very different approaches.

Back to the jobs GE really is sending overseas. Since these jobs are possibly subsidized by foreign governments’ Ex-Im banks, U.S. shareholders of GE stock might be in line for a free gift from foreign taxpayers. U.S. consumers of GE products are in line for a free subsidy from foreign taxpayers. Talk about a pro-America economic policy. Why pay full price for things when we can convince foreign taxpayers to foot part of the bill?

It might be polite to reciprocate foreign governments’ Ex-Im gifts with similar gifts from our own Ex-Im bank. But it would not be wise policy from the standpoint of value creation. And creating value for people is what capitalism is all about. Ex-Im might be pro-business policy—pro-Boeing and pro-GE in particular—but it is anti-market, anti-consumer, anti-worker, and represents cronyism at its worst. Congress should make sure Ex-Im’s expired charter stays that way.