Testimony before the House Financial Services Committee; Hearing on 'Examining Corporate Priorities: The Impact of Stock Buybacks on Workers, Communities, and Investors'
22 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2019
Date Written: October 17, 2019
In this testimony I discuss the causes and consequences of the rise of stock buybacks. Stock buybacks may sound like a technical matter of corporate finance: Why should it matter whether or not corporations repurchase their own stock? When a company executes a stock buyback, they raise the price of that company’s shares for a period of time, but the funds spent on buybacks are then unavailable to be spent on the types of corporate activities that could make the company more productive over the long term: investments in future productivity and in the workforce. Stock buybacks are one of the drivers of our imbalanced economy, in which corporate profits and shareholder payments continue to grow while wages for typical workers stay flat.
Stock buybacks are virtually unregulated, even though Congress has recognized their potential for market manipulation. Importantly, there are currently no meaningful limits to stop executives from using corporate money on stock buybacks to raise share prices for their own short-term gain. Executives are not required to disclose that they have conducted a buyback until the next quarter’s filing; meanwhile, there are no substantive limits to stop them from selling their own personal shares in the same quarter as they are conducting buybacks.
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