If Wall Street Ran The Airlines

The Baseline Scenario has written a pitch-perfect article that pretends financial industry types are now speaking for the airline industry. It’s filled with appeals to the free market, and lots of threats about how the American Way of Life will collapse if we can’t let passengers sit for more than three hours on tarmacs.

It gets really funny/scary by the end, when these imaginary people start realizing that they can create financial products out of air travel:

One Goldman Sachs derivatives trader, who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak about company strategy, said that the firm is planning to create a market for derivatives that airlines can use to hedge against the risk of having to return planes to the terminal or having to pay fines to the FAA. Goldman is thinking of creating “collateralized delay obligations,” or CDOs, which will diversify wait-time risk by including flights from across the entire country.

Update: Q points out the opportunity for a carry trade: “wall street would charge large fees for flying people across the country and then buy them cheap tickets home on greyhound.”

“If Wall Street Ran the Airlines…” (Thanks to bendersgame!)

“Tarmac Imprisonment Limited To 3 Hours”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Thaddeus says:

    50,000 feet over the mid-west: “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have just been informed that the airline has gone bankrupt and the flight from New York to LA will no longer continue.

    We have accepted our corporate “bail out” of parachutes for the flight crew and main investors in 1st class but those of you in business and coach are going to have to work things out for yourself. Some of you may be able to receive some sort of small pay out from the airline should you survive the decent directly into the corn fields Kansas.

    We realize that you have your choice of airlines and could have invested with a more diversified one but appreciate your choice none the less. Good luck in all your future investment based air travel. We will try to close the front door when literally we bail out.”

    And then, like the bank collapse, everyone starts to scream and panic….

  2. diasdiem says:


  3. Blueskylaw says:

    United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton received $39.7 million in 2006. Tilton’s 2006 compensation exceeded the airline’s entire annual profit of $25 million reported by United’s parent company UAL, Inc.

    In 2005, an average Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was paid 821 times as much as a minimum wage earner, who earns just $5.15 per hour. An average CEO earns more before lunchtime on the very first day of work in the year than a minimum wage worker earns all year.

    • what+the_smack says:

      And your point is…

      • The_Legend says:

        The point is….when the big cheese makes all that bank, when they go Chapter 11 and let their ESOP go tits up, when they cut the pay of the people that actually do the work…and don’t forget their Guitar fiasco. No CEO is worth that much. Prove where a CEO is worth more than the profits earned.

  4. scoosdad says:

    This is similar to an old classic story called, “If Airlines Sold Paint”:


  5. BK88 says:

    FTA: Update 2: I didn’t think this was initially necessary, but since a few people may have been confused, I’d like to point out that this post is a JOKE. The New York Times link at the top is real; everything else I made up

  6. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Yay, capitalism! Our benevolent corporate overlords surely can police themselves. Nothing bad like gaming the system would ever happen, so pish-posh on your silly regulations! Nothing to see here, move along.

  7. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    My friends and I have longed joked about major corporations taking over public transit to improve service, maybe it would work for airlines too. How do you think Pepsi would respond if the Pepsi flight 313 to Cleveland was 30 minutes late while the Coke flight 432 was right on time? I can guarantee someone would be fired by Pepsi and it wouldn’t happen again.

  8. StarVapor says:

    There’s nothing surprising here regarding the greed Goldman Sachs will apply when they smell money…As Matt Tabbi noted is his superb Rolling Stone article, The Great American Bubble Machine:

    “The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
    And that, “What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.”

    See… http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/28816321/inside_the_great_american_bubble_machine