Stock Buybacks are Deadly. It’s Time to End Them.

By Porter McConnell and Luísa Abbott Galvão 

The eighties brought us permed bangs, acid wash jeans, and Gordon Gecko’s “greed is good” mantra. So it’s not surprising that in 1982, among other bad ideas, the Securities and Exchange Commission put into effect something called Rule 10b-18, which granted a “safe harbor” (read: free pass) to company executives who wanted to buy back their own stock to raise its price. The SEC promised it would no longer accuse executives who bought back their own stock of market manipulation, rewarding corporate greed.

What exactly is a stock buyback? Stock “buybacks” are when companies buy back their own stock from shareholders on the open market. When a share of stock is bought back, the company reduces the number of shares left in the market, which raises the price of remaining shares.

Company executives have every incentive to buy back stocks, since most of their compensation today is paid in the form of stock, and a higher stock price makes them personally richer. Executives push companies to buy back billions of dollars of their own stock, juice share prices, and pass on cash to themselves and wealthy shareholders. (If you’re curious about the mechanics, check out this short visualization of how it works, or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s explainer at a recent House hearing.)

Over the last 15 years, 94 percent of corporate profits have gone to shareholders in the form of buybacks and dividends, instead of to workers and their families.

Stock buybacks benefit people who already have wealth, and those people are more likely to be White, and more likely to be male. Most Americans are not shareholders. Less than half of American households own stock, either directly or through a retirement account. But 94 percent of households in the top 1% own stock.

Even fewer Americans of color are included in the term shareholders. While 60 percent of white households have retirement accounts or hold direct equity in the stock market, only 34 percent of Black households, and 30 percent of Latinx households, have retirement accounts.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

He Gets the Bucks, We Get All the Deadly Bangs

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre has had better weeks. First came the horrific early August slaughters in California, Texas, and Ohio that left dozens dead, murders that elevated public pressure on the NRA’s hardline against even the mildest of moves against gun violence. Then came revelations that LaPierre — whose labors on behalf of the nonprofit NRA have made him a millionaire many times over — last year planned to have his gun lobby group bankroll a 10,000-square-foot luxury manse near Dallas for his personal use. In response, LaPierre had his flacks charge that the NRA’s former ad agency had done the scheming to buy the mansion. The ad agency called that assertion “patently false” and related that LaPierre had sought the agency’s involvement in the scheme, a request the agency rejected. The mansion scandal, notes the Washington Post, comes as the NRA is already “contending with the fallout from allegations of lavish spending by top executives.”

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Corruption Coordinates

Corruption Coordinates