Boeing’s Unconscionable $60 Billion Ask

Filed Under: Misc.

We’re getting to the point where all the companies related to the travel industry want bailouts — we know that US airlines want $60 billionish and US hotels want $250 billionish, but they’re not alone… Boeing wants a bailout as well.

Boeing wants $60 billion in government aid

In a statement, Boeing has confirmed that they’re looking for a minimum of $60 billion in government aid for the US aerospace manufacturing industry (that’s about ~$182 per American):

We appreciate the support of the President and the Administration for the 2.5 million jobs and 17,000 suppliers that Boeing relies on to remain the number one US exporter, and we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress as they consider legislation and the appropriate policies.

Boeing supports a minimum of $60 billion in access to public and private liquidity, including loan guarantees, for the aerospace manufacturing industry. This will be one of the most important ways for airlines, airports, suppliers and manufacturers to bridge to recovery. Funds would support the health of the broader aviation industry, because much of any liquidity support to Boeing will be used for payments to suppliers to maintain the health of the supply chain. The long term outlook for the industry is still strong, but until global passenger traffic resumes to normal levels, these measures are needed to manage the pressure on the aviation sector and the economy as a whole.

We’re leveraging all our resources to sustain our operations and supply chain. We continue to assess additional levers as we navigate the current challenges and position the industry for the long term. As reported last week, drawing on our delayed draw loan term was a prudent step to increase our liquidity and ease some of the significant near-term pressures on our business. We filed an 8-K today to formally disclose that draw down.

Looking at Boeing’s report card

Boeing’s ask — all while not even acknowledging the mess that they’ve largely gotten themselves into — is on a whole different level. It’s not any individual thing, but when you add it all up and look at the big picture:

  • Boeing has spent $45 billion on stock buybacks since 2009, all while increasing debt
  • The company designed a faulty aircraft that has really caused the bulk of problems that the company has right now
  • As Boeing’s current CEO says about the situation that the previous CEO got the company into — “I’ll never be able to judge what motivated Dennis, whether it was a stock price that was going to continue to go up and up, or whether it was just beating the other guy to the next rate increase. If anybody ran over the rainbow for the pot of gold on stock, it would have been him.”
  • While all of this is going on, the company has created big executive bonuses around getting the 737 MAX back in the sky, and the new CEO admitted he wasn’t willing to give up his salary, because he probably wouldn’t have taken the job
  • On top of that, Airbus and Boeing have been at war for over 15 years over government subsidies for aircraft manufacturers

Bottom line

Ultimately Boeing will get a bailout, because Boeing is super important to the US economy — they employ a lot of people, they’re a huge exporter, and they’re a key player in aerospace.

I just hope that there are some strings associated with this, especially in regards to executive compensation, stock buybacks, debt ratios, and more.

As you might expect, Boeing’s stock is doing… not great.

  1. “ Ultimately Boeing will get a bailout”

    I hope so. But if and only if they go bankrupt first. Once the shareholders have lost everything then we can talk about a bailout.

  2. if they go bankrupt and the shareholders lose…. ALL PEOPLE WILL LOSE. Each and every american owns a piece of the company in mutual funds and 401Ks

  3. @md, spot on. Offer Boeing and the airlines low interest loans. The experience from 2008 shows that they will be paid back and the USG will make some money in the process. Right now, we need to ensure the survival of a vital domestic industry and the massive supply chain (i.e. jobs) that it supports.

  4. @md

    For me, I’d rather the government hand each American a $182 cheque instead of giving $60b to Boeing. I can choose to spend that money on air travel, and in turn the airlines can buy planes from Boeing only if they can deliver competent product.

  5. if they go bankrupt and the shareholders lose…. ALL PEOPLE WILL LOSE. Each and every american owns a piece of the company in mutual funds and 401Ks

    Then we deserve to lose our money. We, as shareholders (either directly or through mutual funds), should have insisted that closer tabs be kept on executives trying to tweak their bonuses with share buybacks. We didn’t do that and we deserve to pay for our mistakes.

  6. It isnt only Boeing. The majority of companies borrowed money for next to nothing as it was ample in supply and used it to repurchase their own stocks. That was a total no brainer up to the point where companies purchasing their own shares became the biggest source of demand in the stock market. Now they are all indebted and ask for bailouts.

  7. @md
    But the logic of your position is that so-called capitalism is just a one-way bet: all profits are mine to spend as I please, but all losses must be made good by tax-payers otherwise everyone will lose money.

    For real capitalism, regulators should set the rules and prevent corporations forming themselves into units which are “too big to fail”. And then those corporations should be allowed to fail or succeed.

    Alternatively, let’s have a look at more European economic models.

  8. “Boeing has spent $45 billion on stock buybacks since 2009, all while increasing debt”
    Where is your data coming from? Prior to 2019, when did Boeing increase debt?

  9. where does this stop. Why don’t taxi drivers get a bail out, how about hair dressers or gyms, bars for sure deserve one since Gov told them to shut. Even Apple or Amazon can make a case. This is lunacy especially in a country that is all about the free market (until its not). If there is going to be a bailout it should go in the pocket of the regular citizen who through spending will enable these business to bounce back. We can call it trickle up economics

  10. A friend just made a brilliant observation. If they bought back all this stock and they need capital they can just reissue those share. Selling them at rock bottom prices will dilute existing share holders. But that’s the point.

  11. @ Ben — Boeing is a special company that is effectively pat of the US government/military. They will get their handouts. It should be an amazing stock to purchase at some point.

  12. Not sure what the situation in the US is but the UK government is considering taking equity in any loan agreements with the large corporations, maybe the US could do that too.

  13. @The nice Paul

    “let’s have a look at more European economic models.”

    Are you talking about Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, and Romania???

  14. I will buck these comments against aid. Note that the statement does say Boeing gets all the money. When there’s a critical industry with minimal competition, that’s different. If Boeing falls, then some defense knowledge would be lost as engineers become Uber drivers. Don’t laugh, a critical piece of knowledge for ICBM’s was lost about 15 years ago.

    If only Boeing Commercial Airplanes fall, Airbus would have a monopoly. McDonnell Douglas is dead. Lockheed and Convair no longer make commerical jets.

    In contrast, there are many airlines.

    The beauty of the Boeing request is that it is for industry, not Boeing itself. Boeing has the knowledge of how to distribute aid, more so than an idiot Congresswoman or Congressman.

  15. @MD Boeing is .31% of the S&P so in most cases, that is the extent of pension and 401K losses. If you have a higher percentage than .31%, you should be punished for your poor decision making. Everyone else can just eat the tiny loss without really adjusting their lifestyle.

  16. @The nice Paul

    Alternatively, let’s have a look at more European economic models.

    By EU model, you mean Airbus?
    Isn’t Airbus also too big to fail?

    Unlike the broken capitalism in USA, where the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer.
    EU probably is probably capitalism at its finest. The rich gets (a little less) richer while the poor thinks they don’t get poorer (but they still do) and hardly anyone will complain the rich.

  17. . If Boeing falls, then some defense knowledge would be lost as engineers become Uber drivers.

    Nah if Boeing fails and declares bankruptcy the shareholders will lose everything and ownership of the company will be transferred to Boeing’s creditors. They will keep it running and eventually take it public again to recover their money. it doesn’t have to impact employees this is especially true if the government is providing the debtor in possession financing for Boeing’s bankruptcy.

  18. This new CEO is not going to improve Boeing’s situation, I have no faith in this guy as he was part of the executive team when Muilenburg was in charge…same scum…need a whole new team in there !

  19. I am curious how many years of regular operation it takes Boeing to pay 60 Billion in taxes (actual taxes, not paying back a potential bailout).

  20. Christ, what a useless post. Yes, the situation is grim. But if we let Boeing flop, how does that make things better? You bitch about the situation without even attempting to propose an alternative approach.


  21. My late parents, WW II veterans (both), would be appalled at the behavior of these self-centered businesses.

  22. The only way to do this is for the govt to come in and make a $60B equity investment, a la AIG bailout, 2009. That wipes out existing shareholders and gives the govt a return on its investment. If this comes as an interest-free loan, heads need to roll.

  23. @Dan:

    Christ, what a useless comment. Yes, the article is merely informative but doesn’t have a ton of meat. But it’s still relevant because this is a travel blog and not the Financial Times filled with financial “journalists”. You bitch about the blog situation without even attempting to propose an alternative approach for content.


  24. But if we let Boeing flop, how does that make things better?

    The stock holders get wiped out. The executives who have much of their net worth tied up in Boeing stock get wiped out. They approved, or the board the elected approved, all these buybacks so now they can take their medicine like a big boy.

    Ownership of Boeing will transfer to its creditors. The US Gov’t will provide debtor in possession financing to keep the rank and file employed and when this crisis is over Boeing can go public again and the creditors and the government can make their money back.

    You know. Capitalism. You run your business into the ground and you lose that business and all your money. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

  25. Only in America can some who blogs about collecting airline and hotel mileage make comments about the safety of aircraft and macroeconomics. Some advice – stick to comments on how to get into the Marquis lounge at the Marriot.

  26. In good times CEOs borrow low cost loans and buyback stock so that they can cash in millions in stock options. In bad times taxpayers should bail them out or LBO operators can rake in millions by buying the company at their new low price.

  27. Here are Elizabeth Warren’s eight conditions:
    Companies must maintain payrolls and use federal funds to keep people working.
    Businesses must provide $15 an hour minimum wage quickly but no later than a year from the end
    Companies would be permanently banned from engaging in stock buybacks.
    Companies would be barred from paying out dividends or executive bonuses while they receive federal funds and the ban would be in place for three years.
    Businesses would have to provide at least one seat to workers on their board of directors, though it could be more depending on size of the rescue package.
    Collective bargaining agreements must remain in place.
    Corporate boards must get shareholder approval for all political spending.
    CEOs must certify their companies are complying with the rules and face criminal penalties for violating them.

  28. I think you are being over-hard on Boeing, at least based on the statement.

    Boeing is looking for “liquidity support,” not bailout. In other words, they want loans (hopefully at low interest), not outright handout, which the airlines want. These are different things.

    As far as I am concerned, so long as the company eventually pays back (and given that the current interest rate is so low anyway), it’s all good. Everyone is hurting right now. It’s better to ensure that the US economy would emerge from COVID-19 more or less intact rather than arguing over who’s moral and who’s bad.

    Finally, I don’t like the whole attitude over CEO wanting paid. I mean, I have seen *some* CEOs taking paycuts and whatnot. However, these are their personal decisions to make. We should not expect that kind of behaviors, especially if the current CEO is not the one creating the mess in the first place. You don’t expect good service for free.

  29. @betbet
    The US equivalent of those poorly performing small European countries would be, I guess, Mississippi, West Virginia and Arkansas. Would you say those were representative of the mighty USA?

    I know you were being sarcastic, but Airbus could relatively easily be broken-up. Firstly its military operation (which to be frank is not hugely successful) could be separated, then a break-up of the civil side could be organised in different ways (eg, the A220 series is already pretty self-contained, not having had time to be integrated into the parent company; wing production is based in the UK and could become a standalone sub-contractor; or it could be divided into longhaul and shorthaul companies; etc. Lots of ways of doing it.

    Though Airbus is, er, profitable, so it doesn’t (yet?) need government handouts right now.

    Back to Boeing…

  30. @Rico
    I like her 8 conditions. Very sensible, and they protect tax-payer money.

    I bet they’re not adopted.

  31. Some strings?

    There need to be a whole rope factory of conditions imposed on Boeing and anyone else who takes a federal bailout.

  32. It baffles me when some of us calling fellow human beings asking for federal help as irresponsible and getting hand outs, but it is ok for faceless corporations to ask for liquidity or bail outs because everyone loses.

    As someone already pointed out companies can go bankrupt and be taken over by their creditors or other investors. They don’t go away. As for arguing that CEO needs to get paid, guess what? they always get paid. I have never seen any CEO not walking away with multi-million dollars even when they get fired. Where is personal responsibility on that?

    I am not for irresponsible behaviors, whether individuals or corporations. I am actually fine with government bailing out the assets and human talents of the companies, but I don’t think we should bail out the corporations themselves. Get someone else to come in to run new companies. It is the irresponsible board of directors and Executives that drove companies into bankruptcy.

  33. Sure – give them a bunch of $$, only if the govt gets preferred voting stock in return.

    At the very least any loan should be senior to all other debt and restrict any ability to do a stock buyback until every red cent is repaid.

  34. BETBET- How about Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, UK

  35. Boeing’s current market cap is $52B. For that price the government should get ownership of the company. Time to nationalize, baby!

  36. I see lots of stupid remarks reading the comments.

    Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and most stink.

    The worst are the ones of give me the money it will help the economy.

    The solution is complex with no easy all win answer.5

  37. Let’s bail out Wall Street once again and allow our kids to be saddled with even more debt on top of their inescapable student loans because down the road everyone but the people who created boeings mess will pay while the offenders will go off and enjoy their golden parachutes

  38. If seen some really stupid comments here. The best is give the $187 or whatever it was to each American.

    Opinions are just like butt holes, everyone has one and most stink.

    The company made major mistakes it appears, maybe more government oversight will prevent this in the future. I’m totally against government rules and regulations as we have too many and I’m not a fan of the government but see what happens when we don’t. What I do know for sure is there is no easy answer. But I do believe we can not let Boeing fail and go under. The fallout will be too great to way to many people and the economy. It was the right thing to do for GM and it worked out for all. CEO’s need to quit getting these mega million dollar compensation packages and pass that money onto the workers. Don’t get me wrong they deserve a great high dollar wage but we have gotten way out of control on that. Plus if the company doesn’t preform maybe we should take a big portion of that money back. CEO you lose if the company suffers a loss.

  39. Boeing has “sin” by it’s incompetent management. Over the last years they spent a lot of money suing other companies and being negligent. They succeed to kill Bombardier with the CSeries. They have been arrogant. Now people of USA should pay for their incompetence?
    Before sending that company money, Boeing should start cutting management bonuses. ALL the bonuses and take back ALL the stock upper management is allow to. Prove that you are capable of doing a good job instead of focusing only stock holders. Make sure that you can act with humility. Because of your fault, Airbus is taking the place that a honest Boeing should have.

  40. @betbet
    @The nice Paul

    I do not get your association of Italy with Greece, Bulgaria, Romania

    Are you kidding ?
    FYI Italy is the 3rd largest economy in Europe and the 7th in the world !

    And is the 4th country in the Europe for personal financial wealth, ahead of Germany.

    And if you meant Debt/DGP , Bulgaria is 28%, Romania is 38%, so no relationship with Greece, at 180%, and Italy at 130%. But the figure has to be put in context with the size of the economy, in fact Japan is at 223 %.
    I invite you to take a refresh course in Geography and Ecomomy before writing similar ignorant posts

  41. Your report card doesn’t even mention the billions in overpayments and years of delay on the Space Launch System project.

  42. Unfortunately they will need a bailout as will every small business. Our politically band standing politicians have decided to sacrifice every Americans livelihood to save some old unhealthy citizens. Sad but true. Keep flying everyone and revolt this insanity.

  43. Imagine how much stock they could buy back with $60 Billion! And at bargain basement prices!

    (Ducking and running)

  44. Give it to them. But every single solitary dime of that “socialistic” cash will be paid back or else stockholders will be giving their company away to taxpayers. That’s the deal they should get.

  45. Too big to fail. Started when they moved their headquarters from Seattle to Chicago all to “send a message” that they could use jobs leverage in negotiating their tax rate with the State of Washington. They moved from a company that valued engineering and excellence to one that valued money.

  46. @md Each and every American has Boeing in their 401K? How out of touch can you possibly be? Tens of millions (100+?) of Americans don’t even know what a 401K is.

  47. Ultimately Boeing will get a bailout, no strings attached. Welcome to America, the land of corporations who are people and money which is speech (national anthem playing in the background).

  48. The ones who claim “giving aid to small businesses and individuals” are idiots, are the idiots themselves. The government has tried the trickle down economy and the bailouts, over and over again. What has happened? Growing wealth gap, shrinking middle class and a too-big-to-fail mentality for big businesses.

    Insisting that this time it’ll work is the definition of insanity.

    Economically, individuals are statistically much more likely to spend than companies in the US. Many individuals in the US have no savings, so they NEED to spend the money, which drives demand and the economy. In contrast, companies will do stock buybacks or stash it offshore, which enriches the stakeholders but do little for everyone else.

    Bailouts are the definition of incentivizing bad behavior and making sure this will happen again and again. Business should be allowed to fail and either find themselves new owners (who are financially prudent and happen to have money to invest even in a bad economy) or liquidate.

  49. How can Apple keep what 40 billion in the bank and still make investors money but these others cant? It’s like teaching your kids to be responsible and if you mess up hey this is what you get, don’t do it again. Why are these corporations any different? I understand the jobs they bring and so forth but if you know Daddy is going to bail you out, why change? when you know if this happens he got my back???

  50. We can argue dollars and cents about Boeing, its “get rich culture” and whether the government or the stockholders should get screwed for the company’s digressions while there are many grieving for the hundreds of loved ones who died as result of Boeing’s rush to cut corners on the MAX and not even brief carriers let alone train flight crews on their damn MCAT system! and just to beat Airbus and squeeze outa few more dollars. MAX is about money now and the souls lost are forgotten (unless one was your wife, mother, son or grandfather)…. Sad.

  51. U.S. government should inject capital by purchasing preferred stock with a dividend that must be paid (and and preferred shares repurchased) by Boeing before it buy any more common stock back or pay any executive bonuses. Uncle Sam also gets (at least) one seat on the Board of Directors.

  52. @The nice Paul

    Well, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia are part of the United States. Just like Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Italy. Any of them could represent “Europe”

    I guess you meant “Norther European economic models”?

  53. Boeing will get what they want. Probably not the $60 billion but thats because they know to ask for more and expect to get less.

    Look at 2008 and 2009 when banks got all kinds of good stuff from the tax payers. And what did the banks do, give out bonuses to their “well deserving” execs. Shamelessly flaunted it too as I recalled.

  54. @zek

    GDP per capita is more important if you are talking about relative wealth. Ask anyone in India if he wants to live in Switzerland. You already know the answer.

    Regarding personal financial wealth, I think you are referring to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook. The biggest problem with the publication is that the data itself is inaccurate, especially in financial assets. It is probably due to the reason that Credit Suisse is just a private company.

    Also, the publication doesn’t explain why most Germans don’t have to worry about buying a house. For instance, the government doesn’t let homeowners deduct mortgage-interest payments from their taxes, unlike Spain or Italy. Also, rent is relatively cheap in Germany. German law allows state governments to cap rent increases at no more than 15% over a three-year period.

    Italy’s GDP per capita is on a par with that of South Korea, where nothing was left in 1953. I believe Italy would be in a worse position if it kept the lira, instead of the german backed euro.

  55. I agree, largely, with your Bottom Line comments.
    Although Boeing does not really deserve what is surely an ambit claim, I would support government support for loan facilities with a slew of conditions. Assuming Boeing does emerge from this crisis mainly intact, there will need to be huge cultural changes involving large-scale renewal at the top. Some streamlining is well overdue.
    No changes- no money!
    Oh, and absolutely none of it should be government grants.

  56. Boeing gets approximately 50% of its business from the government already – and I doubt much of that is going away! This is absolutely ridiculous!!

  57. @The nice Paul

    I was a bit sarcastic on EU capitalist making less.
    But definitely not with Airbus. You break it up and it everything breaks.

    Firstly its military operation (which to be frank is not hugely successful)
    Yes, who would buy the A400M if they don’t have to.

    A220 series is already pretty self-contained
    Because it isn’t really part of operations, it an investment.

    wing production is based in the UK
    Remember the A380? The same company can’t even use the same design software. You would think they will do a better job as subcon?

    divided into longhaul and shorthaul
    So the A320 vs A350/330? I doubt long haul is worth it consider you have to support 300 340 380 with it.

    Lots of ways of doing it.
    Not really a single way that will work. Might work if they just layoff and close everything except the A320, but will anyone allow that to happen?
    Airbus is too big to fail.

    Back to Boeing…

    I’m just pointing that EU isn’t much different than US aside of Europeans have a better impression of their governments. Maybe UK thinks of capitalism differently so they are in favor of Brexit, which by the way got lucky that virus grab all the headlines.

  58. Elizabeth Warren made very good recommendations today on bailout rules for US Companies. And….FU Boeing Board

  59. Kevin, what about the 17k suppliers and 2 million people that count on Boeing? you forget they are huge in military and space?

  60. I’m confused…it’s not like Boeing has anything to sell anyway, since the MAX is still months away from being a saleable (safe) product again. Except for widebody sales, this virus slowdown doesn’t change a thing. Perhaps if they hadn’t used 39 billion dollars over the last few years to goose the stock price, but instead actually invested it in a clean-sheet narrowbody they wouldn’t be crying the big “waah” right now.

    For real giggles read up on their CST-100 Starliner crew capsule. 2 years late, doesn’t work and Boeing hit NASA up for an extra $287 million just to stay in the programme. The head spins…

  61. Maybe a large firm like Vanguard should come together with similar companies and help them out. Boeing is a private company, why ask for public money? This is ridiculous.

  62. I can’t really be bothered with all the back and forth on this one! Suffice to say that in the EU there are strict rules about State aid which don’t exist on the same level in the USA (where only WTO rules apply). US airlines and aeroplane manufacturers constantly complain about other countries giving subsidies to their organisations yet it seems to happen constantly in America. Chapter 11 doesn’t exist in Europe – if companies go bust there then they cease to exist. In the US it’s an obvious form of State aid – and then they all come back “stronger”.

  63. It does not appear that Boeing is asking for a grant. It seems they are asking for a TARP type loan. A low interest loan with certain caveats will help

  64. Boeing is an example demonstrating the need for a deep restructuring of the economy, including a transition to worker and community ownership. Any company too big to fail becomes unaccountable unless it answers to a democratically accountable government. If a government bailout is necessary, the ownership should transfer to the government to place it in public trust for the government to break up and restructure to restore responsible market competition. We tried rapacious unregulated monopolistic capitalism and now bear the devastating consequences, including the failure of a rapacious capitalism health care system. Yes. We face a national emergency. We should treat it as such and use our response to address the source of the failure–not simply repeat it.

  65. @Stefan

    Stock price just shows how die hard Boeing is. It takes much much more than 2 crash to take down Boeing. Even after recession and global pandemic, Boeing is still alive.

  66. If the government bails out Boeing, they should wipe out the equity of the shareholders at the same time. The shareholders failed at adequate governance. Other industries (airlines) should have some degree of shareholder exposure but limited because they’re not asking the government to make up for circumstances that are their own doing.

  67. Boeing’s problems started when Sales and a executive offices moved out of the factory locaton to Chicago. At that point the executives had a disconnect with the real business of the production if planes that is the basis of the company. The executives then believe they make the money and not the plant and it’s workers. I never trust a company that doesn’t think the product is first and foremost. You build the best product sales and all the rest will take care if itself.

  68. After reading the Wall Street Journal article concerning the newly released congressional report investigating the Boeing crashes- it is criminal that nobody is going to jail, but getting huge compensation instead. It appears clear that there were serious safety concerns and over 300 people are horrifically killed and no repercussions except a federal bailout.

  69. I see Boeing from a different perspective. As a small business owner I dealt with Boeing and was robbed of $62K. The company literally dared me to sue them, knowing full well that it made no financial sense for me to go that route. Boeing is managed at the top by amoral people who have no sense of fairness or ethics, and this attitude permeates throughout their operations. Karma has come to visit, and these goons deserve bankruptcy and restructuring. Maybe something worthwhile cam emerge from the ashes.

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