“Wall Street got Boeing’s cash; Main Street gets the relief bill.”
If you want an example of how keeping Wall Street happy can undermine your business, look at Boeing. If you’re also interested in seeing how already-well-paid corporate directors can get a raise while presiding over a horrendous mess that helped lead a company to need federal relief, you can look at how Boeing’s directors gave themselves a $20,000 raise (to $366,000) last year from what they got in 2018.
Finally, if you want to see an act of utter cluelessness given what’s going on in our country, look at how Boeing sent more than $1 billion of dividend checks to its shareholders three weeks ago, as the coronavirus crisis and corporate stimulus requests were both metastasizing.
It wouldn’t have been easy or comfortable for Boeing to revoke or delay the dividend, which had been declared in December before covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, became a household term. But the company didn’t even try.
[Senate package quietly carves out billions for Boeing, officials say]
It’s not clear how big a bailout Boeing will get or what its terms will be. The company was already financially stressed before the coronavirus pandemic struck because the 2018 and 2019 crashes of two of its 737 Max planes had led to the worldwide grounding of what had been a huge moneymaker.
The pandemic, of course, greatly increased the financial stress on Boeing and the rest of the aerospace industry, on whose behalf Boeing had been seeking $60 billion in relief.
But Boeing wouldn’t need anywhere near as big a bailout as it’s likely to get if it hadn’t spent almost $60 billion — $59.994 billion by my read of its financial statements — for dividends and stock buybacks from 2014 through 2019.