Does America need further strategic trade policy for Boeing?

One of the arguments for reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank is that the EU subsidizes Airbus in an increasing returns to scale industry, and so therefore we need to do the same for Boeing.  Boeing is by far the largest beneficiary from the Bank.

Yet the Pentagon spends a lot of money on Boeing already, basically ensuring the company will operate at quite a large scale.  I cannot find formal figures on how much the European Union spends on military contracts with the Airbus Group, but it is highly likely to be much less than what the Pentagon spends on Boeing, given the differences in defense spending across the two regions.

In other words, through military spending we are already doing what strategic trade policy (ostensibly) dictates.  General Electric, which is number two on that list of Ex-Im beneficiaries, is also a significant Pentagon contractor, as is number three Bechtel of course.

By the way, did you know that the standard models dictate an export tax rather than an export subsidy if the duopolistic firms operate as Bertrand rather than Nash competitors?  See Eaton and Grossman (1986), or this Flam and Helpman piece (pdf) or Cheng (1988).  I am not suggesting that Bertrand competition is exactly the right assumption here, rather the point is that strategic trade models are not very robust in their policy implications.


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