A couple of weeks ago we noted that all data about the crony capitalism-facilitating Export-Import Bank of America had mysteriously disappeared off data.gov. Reason contributor and Mercatus Institute Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy raised the alarm. Given the movement to eliminate the bank by those who realize its role in using taxpayer dollars for the benefit of massive corporations like Boeing and General Electric, it wasn't much of a conspiracy theory to suggest the bank didn't want data that could serve to counter its self-promotion to be easily accessible. (Not helping: The bank's communication office did not—and still has not—responded to an e-mail and a phone call for Reason looking for information.)
Fortunately, de Rugy and some associates had downloaded the data that had gone missing and posted it back online. And then after The Hill picked up the mystery, some data from the Ex-Im Bank has returned online. The problem, de Rugy has discovered, is that the data they've restored online is missing information it used to have, like applications that had been denied and some critical information about those who do get deals, information that would be very useful for tracking what the bank is actually doing. De Rugy explains over at National Review:
I picked three Ex-Im transactions and compared the information I found for each deal in each dataset. Here is what I found: The three transactions I chose are:
Transaction ID # 07086750XX0001 in FY 2014, a $281 million loan to Roy Hill in Australia (which happens to be owned by that country's richest woman) to purchase Caterpillar equipment (a gigantic company which happens to be one of Ex-Im's favorite customers)
Transaction ID # 08087436XA0001 in FY 2013, a $148.5 million loan guarantee to the state-owned Emirates Airline to purchase Boeing jets
Transaction ID # 07085466XX0001 in FY 2012, a $3.5 billion loan (the largest ever reported in Ex-Im records) Saudi Arabian company Sadahara Chemical Company purchase boilers from "Various US Companies." (Real transparent.)
In the new dataset, for the Australia deal, you can't see the supplier (International Trade & Transporation Inc), the buyer (Roy Hill Holdings Pty Ltd. – that's Australis's richest woman's company), or the source of repayment (also Roy Hill Holdings Pty Ltd). The borrower for this transaction happens to be Roy Hill Holdings Pty Ltd., but there's no way you could know that just by looking at the new dataset.
For the Boeing/Emirates deal, you can't see the supplier ("Various US Small Businesses" – real helpful) or the buyer (Spv/Emirates Airline) or repayer (Spv/Emirates Airline). Again, the borrower in this transaction happens to be the same as the buyer and repayer, but you couldn't tell without already knowing this.
For the Saudi Arabia deal, you can't see the supplier ("Various US Companies" – gee, thanks) or the buyer ("Unknown" – great) or the source of repayment (Sadara Chemical Company). Sadara Chemical Company is listed as the borrower, again, but the data doesn't tell you that.
Today House Democrats introduced a bill that would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for another seven years. As corporate welfare is often a bipartisan sin, a pack of 57 House Republicans have called for a five-year authorization of the bank with their own bill. The Hill has more details here.
Read more criticism about the absurdly unnecessary Ex-Im Bank by de Rugy and others at Reason here.