DealBook: ‘This Airplane Is Designed by Clowns’


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The airplane maker released more than 100 pages of internal messages to Congress yesterday, many of which showed employees mocking federal rules and joking about flaws in the 737 Max. It wasn’t pretty.

Some of the messages:

• “Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” one employee said to a colleague in an exchange from 2018, before the first of two deadly 737 Max crashes.

• “This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys,” an employee wrote in an exchange from 2017.

• One employee, upon learning that pilots of an earlier 737 model didn’t need flight simulator training for a 737 Max, wrote, “You can be away from an NG for 30 years and still be able to jump into a MAX? LOVE IT!!”

“We regret the content of these communications,” Boeing said in a statement, adding that it was apologizing “to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers and to the flying public for them.”

The revelations aren’t likely to help get the 737 Max flying again anytime soon. Though the Federal Aviation Administration said that the messages didn’t reveal any new safety risks, Boeing will almost certainly face more scrutiny from Congress.

More: American and allied officials now believe the 737-800 plane that crashed in Iran on Wednesday was shot down by Iranian forces, probably in error.

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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York and Michael J. de la Merced in London.

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Roughly 532 shows were broadcast, according to research from the cable network FX. That’s 52 percent more than in 2013, the year that the first season of “House of Cards” debuted on Netflix. (Include reality shows and daytime programming, and the number swells to more than 1,000.)

It’s all because of the rise of streaming services. Netflix alone spent $15 billion on original programming last year, while offerings from Apple and Disney introduced yet more shows. HBO and NBC will add to the race when they debut their services this year.

Is that a bad thing? John Landgraf, the head of FX (which is owned by Disney), thinks so:

• TV programming will become more expensive. (Disney’s “The Mandalorian” cost about $100 million to make, while Apple reportedly expects to spend $150 million per season on “The Morning Show.”)

• But most programs probably won’t get enough viewers to be considered successful.

“The danger of the internet is that everything becomes junk food,” Mr. Landgraf said.

More: Password sharing cost streaming companies about $9.1 billion last year, according to data from the research firm Parks Associates.

The S&P 500 hit a record yesterday. Market conditions look great. But there could be reason to worry, James Mackintosh of the WSJ notes: There’s a lot of red ink on company balance sheets.

The S&P closed at 3,274.7, extending the nearly 30 percent rally that it posted last year. Matt Phillips of the NYT credits that winning streak to continuing low interest rates and high consumer confidence.

Not even economic concerns like the trade war are frightening investors. “There’s nothing that tells me that we’re at a peak and the market can’t go higher,” Bruce Bittles, the chief investment strategist at Baird, told the NYT.

But a lot of companies are running at a loss. Nearly 40 percent of publicly traded American businesses have lost money over the last 12 months, including Tesla and G.E., Mr. Mackintosh of the WSJ writes. That is the highest level since the late 1990s, excluding recessions.

Investors should be worried that “their willingness to tolerate losses at companies promising growth has allowed many new businesses to finance losses well beyond what’s justified,” he adds.



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