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Taking stock: New U.S. Treasury security will offer floating rate

Malcolm Berko: Stay away from airline stocks.
BY MALCOLM BERKO Published: July 28, 2013

As interest rates scrape the bottom of the trough, floating rate securities will be in huge demand by money market funds straining to find high-quality short-term securities. So money market funds will certainly be large customers, as will most banks when their lawyers figure out how to arbitrage the higher yield against term certificates of deposit sold to depositors.

Rank speculations

No, I can't recommend any airline stock as a long-term investment. Airline stocks are not investments but rather rank speculations. The airlines have been a death trap for investors — who have lost billions of dollars on TWA, Braniff, Eastern, Pan American and other industry icons that crashed and burned. The mergers of American Airlines with US Airways, Continental with United and Northwest with Delta are mergers of failures, not successes. These mergers combine the weaknesses of each airline and amplify the potential for failure when things get tough again. The airline business has lost and wasted more capital over the past 30 years than any other business I know. How can a business with huge fixed costs, staffed by very strident unions and dependent upon widely swinging fuel prices be a wise investment? Still, idiots and fools continue to add fresh money to the pot. I remember Warren Buffett's comment some years ago: “If a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk back in the early 1900s, he should have shot Orville Wright. He would have saved his progeny a lot of money.”

Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at