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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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May 2, 2013 - 2:28 pm

On Wednesday we looked at how the US Export-Import Bank is doing its part to make millionaires out of foreign soccer players playing in foreign leagues, in foreign cities, on the US taxpayer’s dime. Despite the fact that most Americans hate soccer, we fund it lavishly.

We also fund a Chinese solar panel company to sell its solar panels in India, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Ex-Im approved a loan to an Indian developer who wants to buy solar panels from MiaSolé, a California-based solar panel manufacturer. A bank spokesman said the loan amount has not been issued yet, as the financing terms are still under negotiation.

The private Chinese energy firm Hanergy bought the struggling MiaSolé late last year. MiaSolé’s board first sought $1.2 billion, but Hanergy paid only one-tenth of that, the New York Times reported.

The Ex-Im Bank is still calling the firm a “California company” months after it was bought up by the Chinese, while spokesman Phil Cogan tells the Free Beacon that “The ownership of the company is not relevant to the decision to approve financing.” The Ex-Im Bank supposedly exists, though, to help American companies.

MiaSolé is in California, but its ownership is a few thousand miles west. When he spoke to the Center for American Progress last year, Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg said his bank provides financing for American companies, declaring  “At Ex-Im, we have a pretty simple goal – to help grow American exports and support the jobs they create. We do it by providing export finance for American companies selling into foreign markets where financing isn’t readily available OR available at competitive terms.” After its sale, MiaSolé is no longer, strictly speaking, American. But Cogan says that that doesn’t matter.

Ok, that’s one small loan to one Chinese company to sell its green wares in India.

Ex-Im has a much larger customer here in the US: Boeing. In fact, Boeing is far and away the Ex-Im Bank’s single largest customer. Take a look at this map of Ex-Im loan data. Over on the left hand side, it shows that the two largest recipients of loans are “Boeing Company, The” and “Boeing Company.”

In fiscal 2012, the Examiner reported that the Ex-Im Bank made a massive majority of its loans to Boeing.

In fact, President Obama’s export subsidy agency funneled 82.7 percent of its taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to just one exporter: Boeing. Out of $14.7 billion in long-term loan guarantees in fiscal year 2012, $12.2 billion subsidized Boeing sales, according to Ex- Im’s annual report issued last week.

How does one company account for so many of the Bank’s loans? Well, cronyism might have something to do with it. Kevin Varney was once the principal economic adviser to Ex-Im Chairman Hochberg. He now works at an outfit called 32 Advisors. One of 32 Advisors’ biggest clients: Boeing.

Let’s roll out a few more of Chairman Hochberg’s greatest hits. Under his watch, the Ex-Im has guaranteed loans for companies that do business in Iran, according to the New York Times. Official US policy is to discourage anyone from doing business with Iran, to isolate is as punishment for its nuclear weapons program.

The Ex-Im Bank even has a Nigeria scam angle. Nigeria ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, but the Ex-Im is guaranteeing loans to the Nigerian government.

The Association of Electricity Consumers of Nigeria (AECN) has called for a greater utilisation of several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in the power sector signed between the Federal Government and leading international firms while former Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji held sway. The government variously signed the agreements with US Exim Bank, General Electric, Daewoo and Siemens amongst others between July 2011 and August 2012.

And then there’s what appears to be old fashioned pay for play.

March 25 (Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil Corp. and its partners in a $15 billion Papua New Guinea gas project last year paid the travel expenses for employees of the U.S. Export-Import Bank as it considered whether to help fund the venture.

The four workers ran up $97,367 in bills traveling to London, Tokyo and the South Pacific, according to data compiled by the bank. They flew business class, viewed the project’s route by chartered aircraft and were entertained by costumed villagers. Eleven months later, the bank approved $3 billion in financing for the liquefied natural gas facility, the biggest transaction in the agency’s 75 years.

Exxon Mobil, the biggest U.S. oil producer, isn’t alone in picking up the travel tab for the Washington-based bank. In the past two years, the bank accepted $366,865 for employee trips, according to information provided under a Freedom of Information Act request. Workers visited projects sponsored by companies including Newmont Mining Corp., ConocoPhillips, Saudi Aramco and Barrick Gold Corp.

Sponsoring soccer millionaires, sidling up with terrorist and corrupt governments, and backing crony loans: It’s a wonder the Ex-Im Bank ever gets around to helping American companies export actual products to real markets abroad.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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