Posted by Staff on November 14, 2014

Investigation Reveals Export-Import Bank Exaggerating Help for Small Business

  • Reuters news agency investigation finds Ex-Im lists “companies owned by billionaires” and “Japanese and European conglomerates” as “small businesses”
  • Ex-Im’s list of “small businesses” includes one that has 53,000 employees
  • “The errors make it difficult to identify exactly how much Ex-Im support goes to big businesses such as Caterpillar and how much to small companies.”
  • Hensarling: “The bulk of Ex-Im’s help indisputably goes to large corporations that can finance their own operations without putting it on the taxpayer balance sheet.”
  • Read the full report below.

Export-Import Bank admits

errors in small biz data
Nov. 13, 2014

(Reuters) - The U.S. Export-Import Bank has mischaracterized potentially hundreds of large companies and units of multinational conglomerates as small businesses, a flaw in its record keeping that could undermine the export lender's survival strategy.

A Reuters analysis showed companies owned by billionaires such as Warren Buffet and Mexico's Carlos Slim, as well by Japanese and European conglomerates, were listed as small businesses and Ex-Im acknowledged errors in its data in response to those findings.

Bank officials and supporters have used the Ex-Im's support for American small business as a first line of defense against a campaign by conservatives to shut it down as an exponent of "crony capitalism."

The bank won a nine-month extension of its mandate in September and faces a bruising battle over the next seven months to secure its future.

Critics reacted quickly.

“Rarely does Ex-Im miss a (public relations) opportunity to claim that it primarily helps small business, but Ex-Im is again playing fast and loose with the facts," said Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Financial Services Committee. "The bulk of Ex-Im’s help indisputably goes to large corporations that can finance their own operations without putting it on the taxpayer balance sheet.”

A comparison of some 6,000 businesses characterized by Ex-Im as "small" with information supplied by corporate data collector Dun & Bradstreet, which Ex-Im also uses to vet applicants, and other sources turns up some 200 companies that appear to be mislabeled and many more whose classification is uncertain.

A division of Austria's Swarovski jewelers shows up, as does North Carolina's Global Nuclear Fuels, which is owned by General Electric and Japan's Toshiba and Hitachi.

The extent of the errors, which also mean some genuine small-business transactions are not labeled as such, is not clear. Separate Ex-Im databases do not even agree with each other.

Responding to a list of 10 examples provided by Reuters, Ex-Im acknowledged errors in most of them but said their impact was small and that the mislabeling of small companies as large ones may have a bigger effect on the total tally of small-business support. A spokesman said the bank aimed to be as transparent as possible.

"When it comes to our data, we strive for 100 percent accuracy, and anything less is unacceptable, which is why we are constantly improving our systems,” he said, pointing to Ex-Im's recent hiring of a chief information officer, an overhaul of databases and a review of paper documents.

In an emailed response to Reuters, the bank cited five examples from 2013 in which small companies were labeled as large ones by mistake.

The errors make it difficult to identify exactly how much Ex-Im support goes to big businesses such as Caterpillar and how much to small companies.

The problem is primarily political, as there are no legal implications of businesses being misclassified by Ex-Im. The bank does not set money aside specifically for companies that meet industry-specific revenue and employee limits set by the Small Business Administration. The SBA guidelines exclude companies that may be small but are owned by deep-pocketed conglomerates.


Reuters calculations show that as much as $3 billion in authorizations listed as those for small business may have been misclassified over eight years - roughly 8 percent of Ex-Im's $38 billion in small-business support over that period. Total authorizations came to $189 billion.

For example, among small-business beneficiaries is Texas-based Condumex Inc, the U.S. sales operation for Mexico's Grupo Condumex, a subsidiary of Slim's Grupo Carso.

Or take Brock Grain Systems, a division of CTB International Corp, which has been owned by Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway since 2002.

In its battle to survive, Ex-Im has presented its statistics with exacting precision.

Ex-Im says that in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, it engaged in 3,347 transactions supporting small businesses, accounting for almost a quarter of financial authorizations and nearly 40 percent of the exports the agency supported.

The lender authorized $20.5 billion during that fiscal year in low interest loans and other support for U.S. exporters and buyers of "Made in America" products.

The mislabeling of transactions, however, makes it difficult to tell exactly how the pie is divided. It extends to a website that allows lawmakers and others to check how Ex-Im supports businesses in each congressional district.

The list of small businesses in Texas, for example, includes engineering and construction company Bechtel, which has 53,000 employees.
Posted by Staff on November 14, 2014
Full Committee Examines Terrorist Financing and the Islamic State

The Financial Services Committee examined ongoing U.S. efforts to stop the Islamic State (ISIL) and other terror groups from obtaining and deploying financial resources at a hearing on Thursday.

“Unlike al Qaeda and other terror groups with which we are familiar and rely mainly on private donations and state sponsorship to fund their activities, ISIL is almost entirely internally financed and apparently is sitting on assets of almost $2 billion," said Chairman Jeb Hensaring (R-TX).

"Fighting the financial war against terror will demand constant innovation and improvement. The tools we have used in the past may not be suitable for the future. I look forward to hearing from all the witnesses on what may be necessary to upgrade, innovate and improve our capabilities to starve the terrorists of the money they so desperately need to carry out their attacks," he added.

"One of the most effective ways the U.S. has disrupted terrorists in the past has been to cut off their financing, limiting their ability to plot and plan attacks. Thwarting the Islamic State's multiple revenue streams and their ability to spend money they already have may require new tactics. So today I'm looking forward to hearing exactly how we are identifying and blocking financial intermediaries that could keep Islamic State in a strong position," said Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN).

At the hearing, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) said ISIL is able to generate funding through a variety of means “from selling oil on the black market, to taxing and extorting local businesses, to kidnapping for ransom...I look forward to working with my colleagues on this Committee to ensure the federal government uses every tool at its disposal to prevent ISIL from acquiring the funds to continue their reign of terror.”


Rep. Sean Duffy | ISIS Funding Network

U.S. Representative Sean Duffy (WI-07) talks to Bloomberg's Trish Regan about the ISIS funding network.

Weekend Must Reads

Washington Times | Wean business insurers off Terrorism Risk Insurance Act

There remains a need for a federal backstop against those catastrophic acts of terrorism that cannot be reasonably modeled or mitigated and whose size truly impacts our economy. However, today there is more capacity within insurance and reinsurance industries to cover far greater portions of this risk. There will be even more tomorrow, provided we put the act back on its transitional reform path.

Wall Street Journal | The Gensler Clean-Up

Under bipartisan pressure from Congress, it’s good to see that Mr. Massad is willing to acknowledge that the celebrated reforms now need to be reformed. But the errors were avoidable. These pages were not alone in warning for years that derivatives rules pursued by Mr. Massad’s predecessor, Gary Gensler, would punish Main Street along with Wall Street.

Wall Street Journal | Does the Fed Read the Election Returns?

All along, let’s face it, this set of priorities has been partly enabled by the Fed. At a speech in Paris on Friday, as fellow central bankers (even the French!) were talking about the need for deregulation and pro-market reforms, Ms. Yellen—the latest great enabler—continued to sing the praises of quantitative easing to solve all problems.

    On the Horizon 

November 18, 2014 2:00 p.m.
Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Hearing

"The Impact of International Regulatory Standards on the Competitiveness of U.S. Insurers, Part II"

November 19, 2014 2:00 p.m.
Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Hearing

"Opportunities for a Private and Competitive Sustainable Flood Insurance Market"

  In the News

Wall Street Journal | Fannie Mae’s Profit Trap Comes Into View

Washington Times | New jobs numbers, same poor economy

Investor's Business Daily | Despite Gains In Jobs, Americans Aren't Convinced

Wall Street Journal | How to Distort Income Inequality

Politico Pro | Regional banks looking to Congress for relief

The Hill | Treasury urges patience in effort to dry up ISIS dollars

Reuters | Exclusive: Export-Import Bank admits errors in small biz data

Bloomberg | Fannie-Freddie Regulator’s 3% Down Loans Draw Jeers

Washington Times | The end of Dodd-Frank?

Talk Radio News Service | Treasury Under Secretary: More Intel Needed On ISIS Financing

Posted by Staff on November 10, 2014

On Thursday at 10:00 a.m. the Full Committee will hold a hearing to examine terrorist financing and the Islamic State.

Posted by Staff on October 30, 2014


HORROR! SHOCK! DEVASTATION! Top-down regulations from Washington make it harder to have a growing economy on Main Street that creates good jobs.  Yet each year Washington churns out page after page of new regulations, rules and red tape in the Federal Register.  It’s become a MONSTER terrorizing Main Street! See for yourself…IF YOU DARE! #HappyHalloween

"It is time for all to take off partisan blinders and acknowledge the truth that Washington regulators aren’t always right and more red tape is not always the solution to every problem.  It is time to hold Washington accountable." - Chairman Jeb Hensarling
Posted by Staff on October 20, 2014
Below are excerpts from the Wall Street Journal’s “Weekend Interview” with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).  The entire interview can be found here.

Hensarling on the Export-Import Bank
Mr. Hensarling views the Ex-Im battle “somewhat as a precursor to the tax reform fight because there are so many vested corporate interests” served by the current tax code: “If we can’t get rid of this agency and the corporate welfare it represents, how will House Republicans ever muster the intestinal fortitude to be able to do fundamental tax reform?” He adds, with some political poignancy, “I don’t know how we will ever have the moral authority to deal with social welfare if we can’t deal with corporate welfare.”
Hensarling on Dodd-Frank

Mr. Hensarling sees an opportunity to revisit the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which was drafted in haste after the financial crisis and was falsely promoted as an end to too-big-to-fail banks. Mr. Hensarling says that “given the state of the economy, people are taking a second look” at both the law and the story they were sold by its authors. “We’ve all heard about Wall Street greed. I think people are now starting to be a little bit more sensitized to Washington greed—the greed for power and control over our lives and our economy.”  

He notes that consumers aren’t pleased with the results: Free checking and credit-card perks are disappearing, and more generally the economy is lagging. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings on economic policy are down, and Mr. Hensarling thinks one reason is the burden on lending and small community banks by Dodd-Frank’s “sheer weight, volume, complexity and number of regulations.”

Hensarling on the CFPB

He is particularly focused on the law’s Financial Stability Oversight Council… and on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which he calls “the single most unaccountable agency in the history of America.” Housed within the Federal Reserve, it draws funding from the Fed but doesn’t answer to any Fed officials, or to congressional appropriators, or to a bipartisan commission, as most independent agencies do. The bureau is run by a single director who cannot be removed unless the president can show cause. Mr. Hensarling also notes that the Bureau doesn’t even have true oversight by the courts because of the Supreme Court’s Chevron legal doctrine that compels judges to show deference to the bureau’s decisions. This lack of accountability may be why the bureau has been constructing what Mr. Hensarling calls “the Taj Mahal” to serve as its Beltway headquarters.

Mr. Hensarling believes the CFPB’s lack of accountability is also leading to “consumer protections” that Americans don’t want or need. Once the bureau’s rules are fully implemented, he says, “one third of all blacks and Hispanics” will “no longer be able to buy the homes that they have traditionally been able to buy. We are protecting them out of their homes! The qualified-mortgage rule should have been called ‘quitting mortgages’ because that’s what it’s all about. So I think I’ve got the argument that is very compelling and people feel it,” says Mr. Hensarling. “They’re less free and less prosperous.”

Posted by on October 02, 2014

The CFPB and the game show Jeopardy! seem to have an interesting connection (see here and here).

Although this week’s Jeopardy! contestants couldn’t name the agency, the unaccountable CFPB is certainly making a name for itself in all the wrong ways.
Here are five more answers that probably ended up on the cutting room floor in the Jeopardy! Studio:




Posted by Staff on September 29, 2014

President Obama recently voiced concerns about the negative impact of “endless regulations” in foreign countries.  Millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans must be wondering why he isn’t as concerned about the economic harm caused by the “endless regulations” of his own administration here in the U.S.A.

While the American people are repeatedly told that nothing is getting done in Washington, struggling small business owners and entrepreneurs across our nation can only wish that were true.  They know better than anyone that the Washington bureaucracy is busier than ever churning out red tape.

Washington set a new record in 2013 by issuing final rules consuming 26,417 pages in the Federal Register.  Another 3,305 regulations are moving through the pipeline at the historic rate of roughly one new regulation every two hours.

Job number one of the Financial Services Committee is job creation and economic growth.  That’s why the committee has passed dozens of bipartisan, pro-jobs bills during the 113th Congress.  Yet Harry Reid has killed them, refusing to even bring them up for votes.  Instead, he adds them to the pile of jobs bills collecting dust in the do-nothing Democrat-controlled Senate.

If President Obama truly cares about the harm caused by “endless regulations,” he should pick up the phone today, call Senator Reid and urge him to take action on these bipartisan jobs bills.

Posted by Staff on September 26, 2014

Currently, there are millions of Americans unemployed and underemployed in this struggling economy. And right now, job number one for the Financial Services Committee is job creation and economic growth.  We have passed dozens of bipartisan, pro-jobs bills. OK, great. Now, they should pass through the Senate, right? Wrong. Senator Harry Reid has killed them off, refusing to even bring them up for votes and instead adds them to the pile of jobs bills collecting dust in the do-nothing Democrat-controlled Senate.

Your move, Senate.

During the 113th Congress, the House has passed 23 bipartisan, pro-jobs Financial Services Committee bills, including two that were approved by the House earlier this month with strong support from Republicans and Democrats.  A list of those House-approved bills follows:

H.R. 5405
H.R. 5461

Your move, Senate. Let's get America back on track. 

Posted by Staff on September 19, 2014
Subcommittee Examines the Financial Stability Oversight Council ("FSOC")

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday to examine FSOC's operations, policies, and procedures. The subcommittee discussed the FSOC's failure to address recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and highlighted the need for greater transparency and accountability.
"The FSOC may well be the least transparent federal entity in the government. Of the 42 meetings held, no substantive description of discussions or members' perspective have been provided in the meeting minutes. In fact, two-thirds of the meetings were held in executive session, completely closed off to the public," said Subcommittee Chair Patrick McHenry (R-NC). "Even Congress, which created the FSOC and its unprecedented authority under Dodd-Frank, has been denied access to their process."

"Therefore, it is not shocking that the GAO concluded that almost two years after its 2012 report, that the FSOC has not made satisfactory progress in terms of complying with many of its recommendations, including those intended to ensure that the FSOC has a comprehensive set of systemic risk indicators, whether or not it's coordinating and clarifying rules with OFR and other regulators, and whether or not it has the ability to assess adequately the effect of SIFI designations on the market and on the designated companies," added Chairman McHenry.

"We all want to see the process opened up; we want to see what's happening," said Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI). "I would look at the bipartisan effort and message that's been sent from this committee and go back and have a solid conversation and review the policies at FSOC."


Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick | House Approves Fitzpatrick Jobs Bill

“This is a jobs bill – by repealing and reforming burdensome regulations, we can set businesses and working capital free to invest in the economy and to create jobs,” Fitzpatrick said in a speech on the House floor.

Weekend Must Reads

Daily Caller | CFPB Is No ‘Start-Up’ Agency, It’s The Same Old Bureaucracy And Should Be Repealed

No one at the CFPB, for instance, can tell the Inspector General’s office who actually made the decision to renovate the building. So a board given the responsibility to protect the financial welfare of American consumers can’t even account for who authorized their own $215 million office space. Congress certainly didn’t. That’s because the CFPB, unlike a typical government agency, does not have to return to Congress every year for budgetary and spending approval. When Democrats forced the Dodd-Frank bill into law with the support of just a few Republicans, they made sure the CFPB was funded out of a fixed percentage of the Federal Reserve’s budget. This essentially placed the agency beyond the reach of one of Congress’s core constitutional powers as well as the oversight the annual appropriations process provides.

Investor's Business Daily | Fed Prepares To Raise Rates, End Failed QE Policy

As rates rise, big questions remain: Will the higher rates the Fed is engineering sink the economy? Will we see unemployment return to recession levels? It doesn't seem likely. And yet, in 2008, if someone had told you that the Census Bureau would report in September 2014 that median income had shrunk 8.2% over the preceding five years, and only those with the highest incomes would see any gains at all, you might have thought that person was crazy. Well, it happened. Thanks to President Obama's misbegotten economic policies and "stimulus," and the Fed's own radical experiment in money printing, the U.S. has had its worst recovery ever from a recession. To its credit, perhaps, the Fed is now quietly trying to undo its failed experiment, by letting markets set interest rates and shutting down the QE program. If so, it's a minor victory for common sense and policy prudence.

  In the News

CNBC | Rep. Hensarling's economic outlook

American Banker | House Lawmakers Press FSOC for More Transparency

Reuters | Watchdog says U.S. risk council lacks tools to spot market threats

The Hill | GAO: Dodd-Frank's stability council falling short

Wall Street Journal | Yellen's Discretion

Wall Street Journal | Dodd-Frank's Collateral Damage in Africa

Wall Street Journal | The Outlook: Fed Sizes Up Alternate Rate-Hike Paths

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review | Risk and Compliance Specialists in Demand

The Hill | Greenspan: Congress Should Kill Ex-Im Bank

Business Insurance | Insurance Groups Hail House Approval of Capital Standards Bill

Daily Caller | Dodd-Frank Agency Flopping

Posted by Staff on September 12, 2014
Subcommittee Reviews the Credit Reporting System

On Wednesday the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee held a hearing to review the roles and responsibilities of consumer reporting agencies.

"According to the FTC, nearly 20% of Americans have errors on their credit report. Furthermore, 5% of Americans have errors that could expose them to higher interest rates or lose access to consumer credit through no fault of their own," said Subcommittee Chair Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). "Today we will learn more about the systems that credit bureaus have in place to resolve discrepancies on a consumer credit report. We must work together to ensure that consumers who have legitimate discrepancies on their credit report can have them removed as quickly as possible."


Rep. Mick Mulvaney | Mulvaney on the CFPB

Rep. Mulvaney tells the Credit Union Times the CFPB is “a wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will function if it has no accountability to anybody.”

Weekend Must Reads

Investor's Business Daily | These 5 Facts Debunk U.S. Jobs Recovery Myth

The purpose of this exercise isn't to bash President Obama. But it's curious that someone whose policies have so clearly failed would double down on his mistakes, prolonging America's economic misery. Despite 0% interest rates, $7 trillion in added debt, more than $1.5 trillion in stimulus, and the Fed creating more than $4.5 trillion in new money out of thin air, our economy just stumbles along. Those hoping for a sudden burst of job-creating growth aren't likely to see it until there's a change in Washington. Until then, keep the champagne on ice.

Real Clear Markets
| How Long Can the Economy Absorb Excessive Government Spending?

Few people would continue borrowing to spend beyond their means. Even if so inclined, consequences quickly eliminate this as a viable option. People would be even more loathe to let an outside entity garnish their wages indiscriminately (which is what taxation is to the economy) to pay for it. Most would succumb to the consequences, and their senses, and align spending with income.

Investor's Business Daily | Dodd-Frank Now Coming For The Insurers

Onerous Dodd-Frank rules aimed at banks are now being imposed on insurance companies and other nonbanks that had virtually nothing to do with the financial crisis. And they're being foisted on them by a regulatory body made up of a bunch of political hacks who have no idea how insurance companies are even run.

    In the News

Politico Pro | Growing turmoil at CFPB union

Washington Examiner | 
Obama's chief ad agency lands $5.7 million CFPB contract that has produced no ads to date

Bloomberg | 
House Lawmakers Knock FSOC Decision To Label MetLife as SIFI; Oversight Possible

Washington Post |
Is the government making it harder for the middle class to buy homes?

American Banker | Small Institutions Could Be Hurt by Operation Choke Point: Lawmakers

Wall Street Journal | The SEC's New 'Thought Crime'

Wall Street Journal | The Feds Choke Off Native American Income

Washington Times | McAuliffe Cabinet official violated anti-lobbying rules: watchdog

Wall Street Journal | The Latest Twist in a Regulatory Sham

Wall Street Journal | MetLife's Too-Big-to-Fail Fight

The Times-Picayune | Louisiana community banks call for regulatory relief as numbers dwindle