American Competitiveness: Education and Irony

  • William Laraque, Managing Director at US-International Trade Services

  • 13.01.2016 12:45 pm
  • undisclosed
There were two announcements from TXF regarding US global competitiveness today which are a tribute to irony. The first is that the Japanese ECAs or export credit agencies JBIC and NEXI will be financing geothermal energy projects in Iceland. This of course means that Japanese banks will be making the guarantied loans which will facilitate the provision of  Japanese turbines for these renewable energy projects. It also signifies the creation and continuance of high paying Japanese manufacturing and support services jobs. To spell it out, turbine manufacturing jobs will not be going to GE or the Siemens subsidiary in the US.
TXF also announced the nomination to the US Ex-Im board of J. Mark McWatters.  Mr. McWatters is a distinguished attorney, CPA, MBA, board member of the National Credit Union Association. What is ironic about the nomination is in part that it is one of three nominations required by law to constitute a quorum so that the Ex-Im Bank can authorize loans and guaranties of $10 million or more. I have never financed a renewable energy project, during my days at Ex-Im Bank which totaled less than $25 million. The Icelandic project totals $45 million. The rest of the irony is that Mr. McWaters was of counsel to Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. You will recall that Rep. Hensarling said one of the dumbest things I ever heard before the Heritage Foundation. The rep. famously described Apple of having been started in a garage and unlike the "crony capitalism" of other highly successful multinationals, had never received US gvt. support. It does not require an MBA to do the modicum of research to confirm that Steve Jobs received an SBA-guarantied loan during Apple's infancy. 
These considerations are significant because the role of government in the formation and growth of business, in the creation and growth of jobs, is a critical discussion, if not the most crucial discussion in US politics today. 
Granted that it takes a certain education to appreciate how ironic these events are. It was FDR who said that the first duty of a statesman is to educate.

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