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Stock Buybacks: A Mountain or a Molehill?

There has been a lot said and written about stock buybacks in recent times, especially after the record-breaking numbers that it put up in 2018. The people who support stock buybacks claim that it ensures the company uses its capital prudently and effectively. However, the opponents of stock buybacks claim that it is another example of short-term thinking by corporations.

Nevertheless, the figures don’t lie, and a record $807 billion was spent on stock buybacks in 2018, which was an increase of nearly 56% from the previous year. It captured the imagination of everyone, including investors, political figures, and the media. However, not everyone reported on it favorably, and even though it worked out for some investors, others lost money due to stock buyback programs.

So, the question is whether stock buybacks are a blessing or a curse for the economy? On the one hand, they help a company drive its share value and ensure that they reward its investors. However, it also means that the company has fewer funds to invest in newer products and hiring employees. How does a company achieve growth if it is spending most of its revenue on stock buybacks? There is no simple answer to that question because each company has different prerogatives and goals to achieve.

Making Sense of Stock Buybacks for Companies

The one thing that most people agree upon is that stock buybacks are not a big issue for companies who have the funds to spend on repurchasing their shares. The problem only arises when a company borrows funds from financial institutions and then uses them on stock buyback programs. The critics of stock buybacks claim that this short-term thinking by corporations will hurt the economy, as there will be less focus placed on launching new products in the market.

That will have a ripple effect on the economy, which will slowly stagnate as corporations accumulate debt to finance their stock repurchases. There is no denying that buybacks could be a major threat to the economy. Still, stock buyback supporters claim that the problem is being inflated by political figures painting an apocalyptic picture to gain support.

There is still debate surrounding the real value of stock buybacks, and whether the supporters or critics are right remains to be seen. Currently, investors and corporations are reaping the benefits of stock buybacks, and the recent trend is set to continue well into the 21st century. What the future holds for stock buybacks is anyone’s guess right now.

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