COVID-19

Boeing used to give more money to shareholders than it made. Now it’s getting stimulus help.

David Brancaccio, Rose Conlon, and Alex Schroeder Apr 1, 2020
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Scott Olson/Getty Images
COVID-19

Boeing used to give more money to shareholders than it made. Now it’s getting stimulus help.

David Brancaccio, Rose Conlon, and Alex Schroeder Apr 1, 2020
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Share Now on:
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Aerospace giant Boeing is seen as a big winner in the $2 trillion economic stimulus law, having successfully lobbied for tens of billions of dollars for its industry.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the other day Boeing isn’t asking directly for bailout money. Washington Post columnist Allan Sloan looked into the particulars of the crisis facing Boeing and joined “Marketplace Morning Report” host David Brancaccio to discuss.

David Brancaccio: Let’s talk about Boeing. They probably could use some help. You look at the numbers … didn’t have to be that way.

Allan Sloan: Since the beginning of 2014, they’ve shelled out $61 billion in stock buybacks and dividends, which is more than the cash their business has produced.

Brancaccio: So they could have, maybe, held some around for the rainy days that we are now in. But instead they parceled out some to shareholders, as capitalism would suggest.

Sloan: Well, yeah, but capitalism also suggests you’re supposed to have a safety margin. And if they had bought back less stock, they would have less need to borrow. And, in fact, in 2019 when they ran into problems because of stuff from their 737 Max crashes, they stopped buying back but they kept paying out very handsome dividends.

Brancaccio: Very handsome dividends. So when I said “parceled out,” that didn’t quite do justice to the amount of money.

Sloan: No, they didn’t parcel it out. They sent it out with a fire hose. They took all the money they had and more and gave it to the shareholders.

Brancaccio: There is a morality tale here about lots of stock buybacks and dividends: that things can change, and big companies need to remember that conditions can suddenly turn on a dime.

Sloan: So the deal is, if you’re going to take all the money you earn, and more, and shovel it out the door, sooner or later you’re going to run into a problem.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Which businesses are allowed to reopen right now? And which businesses are actually doing so?

As a patchwork of states start to reopen, businesses that fall into a gray area are wondering when they can reopen. In many places, salons are still shuttered. Bars are mostly closed, too, although restaurants may be allowed to ramp up, depending on the state. “It’s kind of all over the place,” said Elizabeth Milito of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Will you be able to go on vacation this summer?

There’s no chance that this summer will be a normal season for vacations either in the U.S. or internationally. But that doesn’t mean a trip will be impossible. People will just have to be smart about it. That could mean vacations closer to home, especially with gas prices so low. Air travel will be possible this summer, even if it is a very different experience than usual.

When does the expanded COVID-19 unemployment insurance run out?

The CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March, authorized extra unemployment payments, increasing the amount of money, and broadening who qualifies. The increased unemployment benefits have an expiration date — an extra $600 per week the act authorized ends on July 31.

You can find answers to more questions here.

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