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Mon Mar 23, 2020, 05:16 PM

Schumer and Sanders: Limit Corporate Stock Buybacks (Feb. 3, 2019)




Corporate self-indulgence has become an enormous problem for workers and for the long-term strength of the economy.

By Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders
Mr. Schumer and Mr. Sanders are U.S. senators.

Feb. 3, 2019

Excerpt:

From the mid-20th century until the 1970s, American corporations shared a belief that they had a duty not only to their shareholders but to their workers, their communities and the country that created the economic conditions and legal protections for them to thrive. It created an extremely prosperous America for working people and the broad middle of the country. But over the past several decades, corporate boardrooms have become obsessed with maximizing only shareholder earnings to the detriment of workers and the long-term strength of their companies, helping to create the worst level of income inequality in decades.

So focused on shareholder value, companies, rather than investing in ways to make their businesses more resilient or their workers more productive, have been dedicating ever larger shares of their profits to dividends and corporate share repurchases. When a company purchases its own stock back, it reduces the number of publicly traded shares, boosting the value of the stock to the benefit of shareholders and corporate leadership.

First, stock buybacks donít benefit the vast majority of Americans. Thatís because large stockholders tend to be wealthier. Nearly 85 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households. Of course, many corporate executives are compensated through stock-based pay. So when a company buys back its stock, boosting its value, the benefits go overwhelmingly to shareholders and executives, not workers.

Second, when corporations direct resources to buy back shares on this scale, they restrain their capacity to reinvest profits more meaningfully in the company in terms of R&D, equipment, higher wages, paid medical leave, retirement benefits and worker retraining.


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/03/opinion/chuck-schumer-bernie-sanders.html

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