Dec 18, 2017

What the Export-Import leadership standoff means for Boeing

Scott Garrett, Trump's nominee for president of the Export-Import Bank, speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Nov. 1, 2017. Photo: Zach Gibson / Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Trump's nominee to head the Export-Import Bank, former New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett, will likely be voted down by the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow morning. Four board nominations hang in the balance, with Ex-Im currently hobbled by its lack of a quorum.

That's good news for taxpayers, who subsidize the bank's export financing to U.S. corporations and discount credit to foreign governments. It's bad news for companies like Boeing, which has long been Ex-Im's largest beneficiary despite its market cap of nearly $177 billion.

Garrett has apparently failed to convince a majority of the committee that he would properly administer the bank he claimed "embodies the corruption of the free enterprise system." If he's blocked, the Trump administration has threatened to pull the other board nominees, leaving the bank barred from financing deals over $10 million and Boeing to fend for itself.

Already largely weaned from Ex-Im, the aviation giant has found a private-sector alternative: an alliance of insurers to provide loan and bond guarantees. In 2017 alone, the Aircraft Finance Insurance Consortium has supported more than $1 billion of new airplane deliveries. Meanwhile, Boeing has 661 firm orders for 2018, in addition to 6,600 backorders.

What's next: Whatever happens at Ex-Im, Boeing's shift is not likely to reverse. Per its latest finance outlook, the company expects commercial markets to remain healthy, with government export credit volume composing "a marginal share of aircraft financing."

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