Stock Buybacks Surge

The topic of stock buybacks is on the minds of politicians and investors alike, and it's no wonder: 2018 was a banner year for companies buying shares of their own stock. Flush with cash, thanks to friendlier corporate tax policies, companies in Standard & Poor's 500-stock index repurchased $806 billion of stock last year, up 55% from the previous year and 37% from the record set in 2007. The spending continues: Investment firm Goldman Sachs expects S&P 500 firms to spend $940 billion on buybacks in 2019.

With companies having already spent $4.7 trillion over the past decade on their own stock, politicians are beginning to wonder if that money would be better spent elsewhere. Earlier this year, Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders announced plans to

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