Corporate Cash Flow Squeeze: Protecting the Lifeblood

The growing pile of refund complaints from airline passengers and Disney slashing costs left and right

Just as many American consumers are cash-strapped and are seeking ways to preserve cash so are businesses—mom and pop shops all the way up to mega corps. Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and without it, it cannot endure regardless of whether the economy is in a recessionary or expansionary period. So, in what ways are businesses hanging on to as much cash as they can right now? 

The airline industry is unquestionably one of those sectors that is hurting the most, and customers are finding that receiving a refund for trips cancelled months ago is becoming increasingly difficult. According to Airlines Reporting Corp., U.S. travel agencies have already issued more than $1 billion for cash refunds, but that doesn’t count refunds issued directly by airlines. However, instead of offering cash refunds, many airlines opt for vouchers for customers requesting a refund. And in times like this, many airlines have been changing the terms for which passengers would be eligible for refunds and vouchers, forcing many customers to jump through hoops to receive refunds or making it virtually impossible to receive their cash back. 

In addition to airlines like Colombia’s Avianca, Chile’s Latam, and the UK’s Virgin Atlantic filing for bankruptcy, others like Israel’s El Al have suspended operations and froze tickets for cancelled flights, indicating that passengers will be able to use them in the future. Prior to the pandemic, United Airlines offered refunds to customers who had tickets for cancelled flights if no alternative flight was available within two hours. United then changed it to six hours, which would have denied refunds to possibly millions of customers. In June, they reverted to the two-hour policy, after receiving some pressure from the U.S. Transportation Department, and allowed customers who were forced to accept vouchers to receive refunds.

Vouchers also come with their own thorny terms. With American Airlines, vouchers grant one credit per passenger in the original purchase, meaning that for group purchases where one person pays for it, he’d only receive a credit for his own ticket and not the rest. Frontier Airlines has a 90-day expiration for its vouchers, and in this prolonged period of uncertainty and limited travel, many of those vouchers have already expired. All of this goes to show the desperation that many airlines are experiencing to save themselves from being crippled even further. 

Aside from these dubious methods of preserving cash, other companies, big and small, are being forced to put other costs on the chopping block. Disney’s new CEO, Bob Chapek, has been doing exactly that as the company pushes forward into streaming and as some of their other businesses such as theme parks, resorts, and cruises are currently being pummeled. Disney had announced they’d be closing more than 20 foreign TV channels, shutting down the Broadway production of “Frozen,” closed down many English-language schools in China, and scaled back a $1 billion resort-technology project. Earlier this year, Disney had furloughed approximately 100,000 employees when the lockdown began, and last quarter, revenue fell 42% because in addition to money drying up in parks, resorts, and cruises, advertising sales fell for networks like ESPN and ABC. While Chapek’s push to move Disney’s core business into streaming is undeniable, and therefore may have had an influence in some of these recent decisions, the pandemic is definitely a major driver in the company’s effort to preserve cash. 

The squeeze corporations are feeling is unyielding, but companies who are able to preserve their cash flows for the remainder of this crisis and onward, whether we label their methods as dubious or not, are the ones who will survive. 

RELATED CATEGORIES: Coronavirus, Daily Briefing, Recession

Mark Yusko

Morgan Creek Capital Management, Co- Founder, CEO, & CIO

Mark Yusko is the Founder, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Morgan Creek Capital Management. He is also the Managing Partner of Morgan Creek Digital Assets.

Morgan Creek Capital Management was founded in 2004 and currently manages close to $2 billion in discretionary and non-discretionary assets. Prior to founding Morgan Creek, Mr. Yusko was CIO and Founder of UNC Management Company (UNCMC), the Endowment investment office for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before that, he was Senior Investment Director for the University of Notre Dame Investment Office. Mr. Yusko has been at the forefront of institutional investing throughout his career. An early investor in alternative asset classes at Notre Dame, he brought the Endowment Model of investing to UNC, which contributed to significant performance gains for the Endowment. The Endowment Model is the cornerstone philosophy of Morgan Creek, as is the mandate to Invest in Innovation.

Mr. Yusko is again at the forefront of investing through Morgan Creek Digital Assets, which was formed in 2018. Morgan Creek Digital is an early stage investor in blockchain technology, digital currency and digital assets through the firm’s Venture Capital and Digital Asset Index Fund.

Mr. Yusko received a BA with Honors from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA in Accounting and Finance from the University of Chicago.

Anthony Scaramucci

SkyBridge Capital, Founder & Co-Managing Partner

Prior to founding SkyBridge in 2005, Scaramucci co-founded investment partnership Oscar Capital Management, which was sold to Neuberger Berman, LLC in 2001. Earlier, he was a vice president in Private Wealth Management at Goldman Sachs & Co. In 2016, Scaramucci was ranked #85 in Worth Magazine’sPower 100: The 100 Most Powerful People in Global Finance. In 2011, he received Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year –New York” Award in the Financial Services category. Anthony is amember of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), vice chair of the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund Board, a board member of both The Brain Tumor Foundation and Business Executives for National Security (BENS), and a Trustee of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Foundation. He was a member of the New York City Financial Services Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2012. In November 2016, he was named to President-Elect Trump’s 16-person Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee. In June 2017, he wasnamed the Chief Strategy Officer of the EXIM Bank. He served as the White House Communications Director for a period in July 2017. Scaramucci, a native of Long Island, New York, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.

Michael Saylor

MicroStrategy, Co-Founder

Mr. Saylor is a technologist, entrepreneur, business executive, philanthropist, and best-selling author. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Office of MicroStrategy, Inc. (MSTR). Since co-founding the company at the age of 24, Mr. Saylor has built MicroStrategy into a global leader in business intelligence, mobile software, and cloud-based services. In 2012, he authored The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything, which earned a spot on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

Mr. Saylor attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving an S.B. in Aeronautics and Astronautics and an S.B. in Science, Technology, and Society.

Alex Saunders

Nugget's News, Founder & CEO

Alex Saunders is the founder and CEO of Nugget’s News, a digital media company focused on all things crypto. Alex has been captivated by cryptocurrency since 2012 and in 2017 he began educating globally on the benefits of cryptocurrency and how to safely acquireit. Nugget’s News has been listed as a top-20 podcast by Business Insider, ShapeShift and Lifehacker and has over 120k YouTube subscribers with 9 million total views.Alex is also heavily focused on his cryptocurrency education platform Collective Shift which currently serves over 4,500 members. provides his unique perspectives by utilising his expertise in fundamental analysis, technical analysis and market sentiment. He is working towards his mission of making it easier for everyone to understand the financial world.

James Putra

TradeStation Crypto, Inc., Sr. Director of Product Strategy

James helped launch TradeStation Crypto’s offering which utilizes a true online brokerage model that self-directed investors and traders have come to expect for equities, futures, and foreign currency markets. He is a reputed crypto asset specialist and blockchain thought leader focused on helping people find innovative ways to participate in this space. He is active in the blockchain community with speaking engagements, TV appearances and mentoring. James has over 15 years of experience in the Fintech industry.

Raoul Pal

Real Vision, Co-Founder & CEO

Raoul Pal is the Co-Founder and CEO of Real Vision, the world’s pre-eminent financial media platform, which helps members understand the complex world of finance, business, and the global economy.

Real Vision members also have access to Real Vision Crypto, a cryptocurrency and digital assets video channel watched by over 80,000 people. In addition, Raoul has been publishing Global Macro Investor since January 2005 to provide original, high quality, quantifiable and easily readable research for the global macro investment community hedge funds, family offices, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds. It draws on his considerable 31 years of experience in advising hedge funds and managing a global macro hedge fund. Global Macro Investor has one of the very best, proven track records of any newsletter in the industry, producing extremely positive returns in eight out of the last twelve years.

He retired from managing client money at the age of 36 in 2004 and now lives in the tiny Caribbean island of Little Cayman in the Cayman Islands. Previously he co-managed the GLG Global Macro Fund in London for GLG Partners, one of the largest hedge fund groups in the world. Raoul moved to GLG from Goldman Sachs where he co-managed the hedge fund sales business in Equities and Equity Derivatives in Europe. In this role, Raoul established strong relationships with many of the world’s pre-eminent hedge funds, learning from their styles and experiences.

Other stop-off points on the way were NatWest Markets and HSBC, although he began his career by training traders in technical analysis.

Peter McCormack

What Bitcoin Did, Journalist

Peter McCormack is a full time journalist/podcaster covering topics such as Freedom, Human Rights, Censorship and Bitcoin. Peter created and hosts the What Bitcoin Did Podcast, a twice-weekly Bitcoin podcast where he interviews experts in the world of Bitcoin development, privacy, investment and adoption. Launched in November of 2017, the podcast has grown to over 100 episodes with a guest list that is a testament to the diversity of knowledge and opinions that represent the broader Bitcoin community. Expanding his growing list of human interest recordings, documentaries and films Peter has recently launched the Defiance podcast and DefianceTV.

Caitlin Long

Avanti Financial Group, Founder & CEO

22-year Wall Street veteran who has been active in bitcoin and blockchain since 2012. In 2018-20 she led the charge to make her native state of Wyoming an oasis for blockchain companies in the US, where she helped Wyoming enact 20 blockchain-enabling laws. From 2016-18 she jointly spearheaded a blockchain project for delivering market index data to Vanguard as chairman and president of Symbiont, an enterprise blockchain start-up. Caitlin ran Morgan Stanley’s pension solutions business (2007-2016), heldsenior roles at Credit Suisse (1997-2007) and began her career at Salomon Brothers (1994-1997). She is a graduate of Harvard Law School (JD, 1994), the Kennedy School of Government (MPP, 1994) and the University of Wyoming (BA, 1990).

Hunter Horsley

Bitwise Asset Management, CEO

Hunter Horsley is Chief Executive Officer of Bitwise Asset Management. Prior to Bitwise, he was a product manager at Facebook, working on advertiser products including the multibillion-dollar sponsored content ecosystem and ad breaks in videos. Before Facebook, Horlsey was a product manager at Instagram, responsible for multiple advertising products generating several hundred million dollars of revenue. He is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.S. in economics. Recently, Horsley was named a member of Forbes’ 2019 “30 Under 30” list.

Luke Gromen

Forest For The Trees, Founder & President

Luke Gromen has 25 years of experience in equity research, equity research sales, and as a macro/thematic analyst. He is the founder and president of macro/thematic research firm FFTT, LLC, which he founded in early 2014 to address and leverage the opportunity he saw created by applying what clients and former colleagues consistently described as a “unique ability to connect the dots” during a time when he saw an increasing “silo-ing” of perspectives occurring on Wall Street and in corporate America.

FFTT caters to institutions and sophisticated individuals by aggregating a wide variety of macroeconomic, thematic and sector trends in an unconventional manner to identify investable developing economic bottlenecks for his clients. Prior to founding FFTT, Luke was a founding partner of Cleveland Research Company, where he worked from 2006-14. At CRC, Luke worked in sales and edited CRC’s flagship weekly thematic research summary piece (“Straight from the Source”) for the firm’s clients. Prior to that, Luke was a partner at Midwest Research, where he worked in equity research and sales from 1996-2006. While in sales, Luke was a founding editor of Midwest’s widely-read weekly thematic summary (“Heard in the Midwest”) for the firm’s clients, in which he aggregated and combined proprietary research from Midwest with inputs from other sources.

Luke Gromen holds a BBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Cincinnati and received his MBA from Case Western Reserve University. He earned the CFA designation in 2003.

Meltem Demirors

CoinShares, Chief Strategy Officer

Meltem Demirors is Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares, an investment firm that manages billions in assets on behalf of a global investor base, and is a trusted partner to investors and entrepreneurs navigating the digital asset ecosystem. Meltem oversees the firm’s managed strategies group and its New York office and leads corporate development.

Previously, she was part of the founding team of Digital Currency Group. As a veteran investor in the digital currency space, she has invested in over 250 companies in the ecosystem.

Meltem is passionate about education and advocacy, and teaches the Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme and co-chairs the WEF Cryptocurrency Council.