United Airlines CEO Threatens Congress "Bailout or Layoffs"

Mish

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz is threatening Congress. How Should Congress respond?

Bailout or Layoffs

How should Congress react to the demands of United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz?

  1. Tell Munoz to go to hell.
  2. Require total wipeout of shareholders
  3. Require executives to cut their salary to zero, stock options to zero, and eliminate golden parachutes in addition to shareholder wipeout
  4. Hey, let's bail them out.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (110)
No. 1-47
mark0f0
mark0f0

#3, and retroactive removal of compensation greater than the 5X the average employee paid to the executives for the past 10 years. ie: use the threat of RICO prosecution to require disgorgement of excess compensation that was obtained through conflict of interest and racketeering.
A message needs to be sent that paying employees, including executives, greater than their real market value is not to be tolerated in public companies. And that shareholders should be more careful in the corporate governance process to ensure this doesn't happen.

davebarnes
davebarnes

1 plus 2 plus issue bonds which the gubmint will buy

The problem with 3. is that it punishes many people's retirement funds

Russell J
Russell J

Tell Munoz to go to hell. The only thing the federal government should do for buss or individuals is try and keep the "playing field" fair and level..no discrimination or monopolies...or lobbying aka legal bribery.

tokidoki
tokidoki

1, 2, 3.

PecuniaNonOlet
PecuniaNonOlet

So if the gov gives them 50 billion and this virus drags on till March next year what then? Give them another 50b, 100b, 200b? At what point does the gov stop floating airlines, hotels, casinos, restaurants, hospitals, hair salons, etc? This isnt a crisis that has a specific end until a vaccine is developed.

DBG8489
DBG8489

Fuck them.

They aren't threatening the "government", they are threatening us. Government doesn't have money sitting in a bank somewhere to give them. That money comes from taxpayers one way or another.

If their company doesn't have the resources to weather this, then the shareholders made poor choices and didn't prepare.

I feel badly for their employees but their needs aren't a mortgage on the future earnings of taxpayers.

I've been laid off twice in my life and dealt with it both times. They can deal with it as well.

And the physical assets of the company aren't going to magically disappear, they can be reallocated to someone who might make better choices in the future.

hmk
hmk

Now that thats settled what about Boeing more importantly. They need to be forced into BK and then the govt can do the loan package for the newly formed company with compensation and stock buyback provisions. Seemed to work ok for GM at least so far.

Captain Ahab
Captain Ahab

This is a no-brainer. United has access to the same solutions as any other company would explore when it needs capital: they can sell shares to increase equity, or borrow in the capital markets. If UAL is liquidated, another company will buy their assets. Staff will find other jobs. Life will go on. This is competition.

Captain Ahab
Captain Ahab

Who knows, five smaller Boeings might be better than one mammoth Boeing? Boeing goes bankrupt. Entrepreneurs move in, pick up the pieces cheap. New industries emerge. Give competition a chance.

Captain Ahab
Captain Ahab

GM went to the government to get a guarantee for their warranties. People would not buy the cars because they were worried the company might go out of business. It was OBAMA who forced the collapse.

MATHGAME
MATHGAME

Send Munoz and anyone else signing on to the demands to prison for their threats.

Cut all executive and board compensation to $0 and kill all golden parachutes … all the morons who got themselves into this mess with all their share buybacks.

Offer nothing except a loan to be paid back with 100% of any profits from operations and stock sales going forward.

Take or leave it.

vibhakush
vibhakush

no bailout. let them go to bankruptcy.

abend237-04
abend237-04

I missed the threat part entirely. It looked to me like a CEO making a statement and giving a heads-up on a move that, if executed, will the opening move in a massive downsizing of the US economy:

"My revenues are suddenly down 60%. Since I'm a public firm and can't print money, I intend to act decisively to get my expenses in line with my new revenue stream, beginning April 1st."

If we have a cure in hand that works, and I think we do, now would be a good time for congress to get off it's ass and drive both the cure and a ride-through bill.

The small business owners I know have already sent their people home; They can't print money either.

frozeninthenorth
frozeninthenorth

Naw, he'll get a deal from Trump...and then layoff the people anyway. Will get a nice bonus out of it, then quit

shamrock
shamrock

Sell the shares you bought back over the past 10 years. Cut your expenses.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

Bankruptcy works just fine.

United, you are not above the process.

QE2Infinity
QE2Infinity

I vote #1. Even better, the government should offer the bond holders expedited bankruptcy proceedings.

shamrock
shamrock

What does the bailout consist of anyway? Low cost loans? Free money?

abend237-04
abend237-04

There's obviously a long line of people on here standing in line to piss on United. If it were just United, I might even join you. However, thanks to 11 years of bubble-blowing, it's quite likely your firm is somewhere in the long list of firms in dire straits as well.
There are only three ways to raise capital:
1.Earn it...from operations. That's obviously out.

2.Borrow: They can't, every loan committee on the planet gets religion at the same moment, as usual, in times like these.

3.Sell stock: Who would buy...you?

Take'er down, Sam, and they will.

All avoidable if the coming train wreck can be sidestepped. It can.

Kbwe
Kbwe

To all of you talking tough on here:

How many business with 100,000 plus employees can take a 80%+ cut in revenue and survive? Second what is the first thing all the employees of these airlines will do when furloughed? They will get unemployment. You're paying for it with taxpayer money regardless. None of you are on here complaining about how your taxpayer money is stolen and wasted by the government on a daily, hourly by the minute basis but now you act as if airlines are robbing you... SMH. I saw somebody say "I've been laid off twice and had to deal with it, let them". Airline employees have been laid off in the recent past as well, they have dealt with it. What a big heart that guy has. You're all entitled to your opinion, I just think many of you haven't really thought about this, don't know enough about it, or are completely misinformed.

QE2Infinity
QE2Infinity

Fed enable corporate malfeasance has enriched CEO's that cashed out on their bloated stock options. Now the time has come to pay the bill and who is asked to pay? The little guy through the slight-of hand of currency debasement. The "Great Enabler" is hard at work putting in the fix.

Mish, Is there anyway to know if the junk being put on the Fed's balance sheet is corporate bonds issued for stock buybacks? Is this the new subprime that the Fed has wrought?

Paul T.
Paul T.

#1,#2,#3 then bankruptcy. Poor management and shareholders should have been watching the hen house, not the foxes!

Tengen
Tengen

United can go the way of Eastern, Midway, and Pan Am if they're in such terrible shape. This game of TBTF has to end and it's been increasingly obvious over the past 20 years that our easy money strategy isn't working for the vast majority of people.

I'm sure many others will follow United's lead, but a pandemic is as good an excuse as any to finally bring on the great reset. Let's get this party started and do what we should have done in 2008!

Ted R
Ted R

Screw the greedy, incompetent airlines. Let them lay off as many as they like. No more bailouts, period. We can't afford all this debt.

bilejones
bilejones

"3.Sell stock: Who would buy...you?"
Those of us who shorted airlines, perhaps.

abend237-04
abend237-04

@bilejones
"Those of us who shorted airlines, perhaps."

Excellent crystal ball. The same can luxuriate in their good fortune tooling past unemployment lines with 10 million people in them.

abend237-04
abend237-04

For those who may have been in a cave since Christmas, or just not giving a damn and paying no attention:

This is not a September 2008 redo: It is potentially much worse. In September, 2008 when Henry Paulson demanded access to the taxpayer's purse, the former head of Goldman Sachs was acting to bail his buddies who had hung bad paper in housing and pretended to have it underwritten by AIG.
The gravy train in a single sector, housing, had suddenly stopped because key facilitators suddenly, and in unison, stopped pretending they thought a key player's overnight paper was good.
This time is indeed different. A pandemic has stopped the entire national economic revenue train. It can be restarted and it must be, quickly.

There is a drug combination that works extremely well, reducing deaths dramatically: Hydroxychloroquine and Azrithromycin. It's been used successfully on thousands. We should isolate the older folks, like me, and use this drug combo to treat infected, but get the economy moving again.
United's managerial competence is not the issue; economic death is.

riten
riten

Let the CEO go to hell. This is the time to set an example. If a company is unable to weather a crisis, liquidate it. No favorites and no exceptions. Isn't capitalism supposed to work like that? Taxpayer's hard earned money should no be wasted to save any corporation. As someone stated, new entrepreneurs will pick up the pieces and start newer better companies. Employees can apply for unemployment benefits and find new jobs. Give capitalism a chance to work.

Quatloo
Quatloo

Time to call Munoz’s bluff.
No money should be given to United by government.
Let it go to bankruptcy and wipe out the equity holders.
The debt holders can take their collateral (airplanes and landing gates) and sell them to any buyers they can find.
Future investors will snap up airline assets cheaply and start a new airline (or resuscitate United). Most importantly, they will do so knowing that they will lose their entire investment if they run the company poorly, that they won’t be bailed out by the taxpayers.

BukaseyJ
BukaseyJ

“CEO threatens big job cuts if company doesn’t receive ‘sufficient government support’.” This tweet/headline does not accurately or fairly portray the statement issued by United Airlines — and it’s a great example of how a biased media uses certain words to drive public opinion and gin up hate for its boogeyman of the moment, which right now, apparently, is United Airlines. The single word, “threatens”, misrepresents the CEO’s statement, distorts the truth, ignores reality, and exposes the author’s bias. And it’s highly effective at driving public opinion because look at the hate-filled uninformed discussion that has followed. This isn’t a threat — it’s a statement of cold, hard reality. It’s the truth. It’s a warning. It’s a call for action. But it’s not a threat. United Airlines didn't cause this crisis. It’s CEO and corporate board didn’t cause it. It’s shareholders (which by the way are everyone from blue collar union members to office workers, and white collar executives who invest in 401ks and other retirement vehicles) didn’t cause this. And it’s employees didn’t cause this either. So all this talk about cutting his salary to zero (by the way, he’s already done that voluntarily), wiping out shareholders, and telling him to go to hell is nothing but division and hatred at a time when this country needs to come together, save every job we can, bailout the industries that are vital to the American economy, and set aside the petty class warfare, or we will have nothing left. And, honestly, how can a business network can be so anti-business.?

ClydeThe Raven
ClydeThe Raven

Number 1 and #3

Kbwe
Kbwe

Again, you fail to make any points. The government is doing everything you listed. The government will be supporting these laid off workers as well as handling a health crisis. I don't understand how you can be so short sighted. Screw the execs, yet if you don't do anything be sure of one thing, those execs will keep their jobs, the workers will not. They will become defaulted mortgages, defaulted loans, medicare and unemployment dependants. You're ability to grasp this is ridiculous. Airlines won't be the only ones, they are just currently the hardest hit. Btw transportation includes more than people. A very large number of freight is moved by the big 3 airlines. You fail to articulate anything except for "screw execs". What's your plan?

Kbwe
Kbwe

You're on complete bullshit. You claim to have all these principles but have very little knowledge on the subject you speak of. What happens then in a year from now if these airlines or Boeing goes out? Other airlines pop up? Just like that? How does freight move? What happens to the actual airports, who will bankrupt along with the airlines? The airports are asking for money as well. What happens to all the vendors that support the airlines, food, cleaning, fueling etc? You don't realize how far this goes. But then again, principles right? Haha.

Kbwe
Kbwe

They paid about 150 million in the 4th quarter last year alone. Payroll tax, fuel tax, gate tax, landing tax, takeoff tax, countless late departure fines. Where do you think that goes? You don't seem to have a problem giving billions to corrupt nation's bit for american workers you draw the line on them. Again you're not properly informed and that's not all your fault. You have so called journalists writing non sense. Even the title is total b.s.

abend237-04
abend237-04

Everybody on here smugly cheering on the United lynch mob may want to take a real good look at the P&L of the firm you draw a paycheck from. If it's on planet Earth, chances are it's management team has suddenly also gone completely to hell in the past two weeks.
What goes around comes around. Government has slammed the revenue door, all eyes need to be on how to open it quickly, not which tree to lynch United from.

Haxo Angmark
Haxo Angmark

tell Munoz to go back to Mexico.

Tengen
Tengen

Sounds like a few of the new posters here may be airline employees since they're taking this bailout issue personally. They don't seem to have the same sympathy for savers or any of the small/medium businesses that were engulfed in the last financial crisis, but apparently large corporations are sacrosanct. Calling this discussion "hate filled" made me chuckle out loud.

I'll say it again- Boeing and United are the tip of the iceberg. Soon every CEO will be running to Washington with their hands out. Let's say we bail everybody out again, it will be like 2008 only even pricier. We can keep this zombie alive for a bit longer, but what happens when the next crisis hits, probably in the next 5-10 years? Since our $23T of debt is not nearly enough, at what point do the debt loads become intolerable?

Capitalism isn't meant to be bailed out repeatedly like this, nor is it meant to be run on ZIRP/NIRP. The pandemic isn't the issue here, it's that we intentionally set everything up to be fragile, secure in the belief that every TBTF corp will get bailed out again. We can't even produce the cotton swabs we need to test people! Nobody needs to assess risk because the Fed and US gov are there to backstop everything. These bad habits will be our undoing, and if it takes some serious pain to force us back to responsibility, so be it!

abend237-04
abend237-04

Reminds me of scenes out of Barbara Tuchman's "Guns of August," August, 1914 before the killing started, when it all could have been prevented had European "leaders" stopped strutting, swaggering and preening and worked to pull it off.

Our problem now is how to handle a pandemic that has caused an economic heart attack. We're strutting about allowing as how our problem is imperfect management at United, and we just need to stand tall and kill United. There will be 20 million unemployed and socialists running a really shitty government if it happens before this is over. It won't stop with United, they are only the opening gun if congress sits on it's ass without getting a backstop in place while the revenue train is restarted.

5.A 90 day bridge note atop the debt stack.

abend237-04
abend237-04

Before it gets lost in the catfight, Anyone who wants to help can contact their political hired help and start raising hell about repealing 10B-18, the SEC bulletin that allowed the damned disgraceful, runaway cash poured into stock balance sheet manipulation since 1982.

If it isn't done now as part of any deal, it never will be when the dust settles.

Louflame
Louflame

Well they got my $250 re issuing fee that they will not refund to me for mileage points reissused when I canceled my flight during this epidemic, nowhere on their change fee policy did they mentioned that they were not redund the reissuing fee that's associated with canceling with using mileage points, I didn't even want my money back I would've been happy with the credit but didn't have that option they just took to $250 from my credit card,very unfair practices..

Six000mileyear
Six000mileyear

Boeing and United were part of a monopoly with Pratt-Whitney the government broke up (in the 40's or 50's ?). Boeing and Pratt-Whitney are still monopolies, while UAL is a dominant market force. Boeing and Pratt have existing military contract work, so the government will most likely give them enough money to keep those activities afloat. I'm not sure if United has government contracts, but United may get enough relief to keep their infrastructure in place so an airline monopoly does not form.

WildBull
WildBull

I just cancelled flights for June. Delta kept 42% of the price for a flight that will never get off the ground. I feel SOOOOOooo sorry for the airlines. They ain't hurtin' yet.

ReadyKilowatt
ReadyKilowatt

I have a FlightAware tracker set up on my home network, which gets me access to a premium FlightAware account. Checking this morning I see no significant reduction in flights nationwide over the last month even though people are cancelling at an alarming rate. Why are they flying empty equipment? I work next door to Sardy Field in Aspen. Most of the private jets are gone but the regularly scheduled commercial flights are still happening. Sure, anecdotal (and I'm pretty sure Aspen Ski Co gives the airlines a kickback for every flight), but this is happening everywhere.

Bcalderone
Bcalderone

Seems like we have two major problems here: 1) Irresponsible debt leverage and stock buybacks by UAL.
2) Government-enforced shutdown of huge parts of the economy.
We can’t ask the airlines to go bankrupt, Covid-19 isn’t their fault. However, I think the feds are going to have to provide emergency loans at 0% interest to the airlines and other businesses to bridge this crisis. Mish is also 100% correct in saying that airlines need to sell more stock and finance themselves, but this is a medium-term solution. For now, let’s keep businesses on life support; my friends and neighbors need to keep their jobs during this scary time.

Pdc
Pdc

Hey UA, thanks for stranding us in the Dominican Republic. Got a text saying flight was cancelled due to runway repairs! Bullsh#t. Delta to the rescue

_ joe
_ joe

Called extortion of the American taxpayer

Carl_R
Carl_R

Why do we care? That's what we have unemployment and bankruptcy for. Let the Best run airlines survive, and let the worst run ones go broke. Then, in the recovery afterwards, the strongest ones can expand and hire more people. It all works out the same in the end.


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