Bail out everyone, ‘worry about paying the bills later’

Billionaire businessman Barry Diller told CNBC on Thursday the United States government should bail out all companies that have been hit hard by the coronavirus, including those in the travel industry. 

“The damage that is being done every day is enormous,” Diller said on “Squawk Box.” “Everybody needs to be bailed out for this one time thing, and we’ll worry about paying the bills later.”

The comments from Diller, chairman of travel site Expedia and digital media group IAC, came after major U.S. airlines and the Treasury Department reached a deal that gives the carriers access to loans and grants to support payroll. In return, the government gets warrants that could become equity stakes. 

Diller said Expedia is generating no revenue and will need to cut costs, including in advertising. He said the company spend about $5 billion on marketing last year but would likely spend less than $1 billion this year. 

Shares of Expedia, like those of other travel companies, have been pummeled as the pandemic has spread. The stock is down about 44% year-to-date. 

Diller’s IAC acquired Expedia in 2003 in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks less than two years earlier, but the executive said the shock to the travel industry is unlike anything he has ever seen. 

“I don’t think this is analogous to anything. It certainly isn’t analogous to 9/11,” Diller said.

Diller said that in order for the economy to start moving again, people need to become comfortable being in close proximity with others. He pointed to movie theaters as a business that could not recover unless people are willing to be close to one another. 

“The fear is the next thing that’s going to have to thaw,” Diller said.

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