March 26, 2019

How Has Boeing Fared without the Ex-Im Bank’s Aid?

Contact us
To speak with a scholar or learn more on this topic, visit our contact page.

The Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank has been heralded by both Republicans and Democrats as a boon for small businesses. In 2015, former President Barack Obama claimed it “helps small businesses go global.” More recently, President Trump has claimed that “lots of small companies will really be helped” if the bank’s quorum were renewed, even though he campaigned against the bank’s aid as a handout. Despite these claims, big businesses such as Boeing were the largest beneficiaries of the bank’s aid while the bank had a quorum, not small businesses.

The Ex-Im Bank’s loss of a quorum in 2015, and thus the loss of the ability to approve any action over $10 million, has provided useful data on its decisions with regard to some of the large businesses it had previously helped. One example is the bank’s largest beneficiary during its quorum days: Boeing. From Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 to FY 2017, aid to Boeing has dropped by $8 billion to only $19 million, a fall of more than 99 percent.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Boeing is a huge company with access to capital and without need for handouts from American taxpayers. As such, it is an optimistic sign that without a quorum, aid to such companies has decreased significantly.

So how is the bank’s former largest beneficiary doing without the Ex-Im Bank’s help? After losing nearly all of the aid it received from the Ex-Im Bank, Boeing is thriving. Boeing saw its stock prices and revenues rise between FY 2014 and FY 2017.

Figure 3

The most promising development regarding the change in the Ex-Im Bank’s support for this huge corporation is that it is not in the top 10 recipients of “small business” aid any longer. That Boeing ever received any aid intended for small businesses is absurd. However, despite that absurdity, in FY 2014 Boeing was the fourth-largest recipient of small business aid. (It is worth noting that another big business, Caterpillar, topped the list with $356 million. This was nearly 10 times as much small business aid as Boeing received.)

Figure 4

By FY 2017, Boeing was still receiving small business aid; however, it was no longer among the top recipients. Small business aid to Boeing dropped from $36 million to $5 million. While $5 million is still far more aid than a business with $93 billion in revenue should receive, this change is a marked improvement from the Ex-Im Bank’s actions while it had a quorum.

Figure 5

Boeing is doing better than ever without the Ex-Im Bank’s aid.