United Airlines stock collapse the result of a scam?

The share price of United Airlines fell by 75% today because somehow a six-year old story about its filing for bankruptcy got resurrected via the website of an obscure regional newspaper, whence it was automatically plucked by Google News, and then picked up by an analyst who didn’t check quite as much detail as he should have done: see this report of the fiasco in the Register.

Question: could it have happened had UA used Open-Book Accounting? Answer: no, because analysts would have all the information they needed from direct access to the airline’s books, and wouldn’t need to rely on flaky bot-generated stories on Google.

Second question, in the interests of balance: had UA used OBA all along, would they still be in business? Answer, much more difficult – but quite possibly not, given the generally appalling nature of airline profitability.


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