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It sacrifices future growth for present consumption

Welcome to the buyback economy

Let’s recall those heady days of 2006 when home prices were rising 10, 15, even 20percent a year, allowing millions of homeowners to refinance mortgages and collectively take out more than moncler outlet store $300billion in cash from the increased value of their properties. Some spent the money on furniture, appliances, cars and vacations, adding fuel to an already roaring economy. Others reinvested it in the already booming real estate and stock markets. When it finally occurred to moncler outlet everyone that those houses and those stocks weren’t really worth what the debt fueled market said they were, markets crashed, banks flirted with insolvency, and the economy sank into a deep global recession.

Now, 12 years later, it’s happening again. This time, however, it’s not households using cheap debt to take cash out of their overvalued homes. Rather, it is giant corporations using cheap debt and a one time tax windfall to take cash from their balance sheets and send it to shareholders in the form of increased dividends and, in particular, stock buybacks. moncler outlet sale As before, the cash outs are helping to drive debt corporate debt to record levels. As before, they are adding a short term sugar high to an already booming economy. And once again, they are diverting capital from productive long term investment to further inflate a financial bubble this one in corporate stocks and bonds that, when it bursts, will send the economy into another recession.

Welcome to the Buyback Economy. Today’s economic boom is driven not by any great burst of innovation or growth in productivity. Rather, it is driven by another round of financial engineering that converts equity into debt. It sacrifices future growth for present consumption. And it redistributes even more of the nation’s wealth to corporate executives, wealthy investors and Wall Street financiers.

Corporate executives and directors are apparently bereft of ideas and the confidence to make cheap moncler long term investments. Rather than using record profits, and record amounts of borrowed money, to invest in new plants and equipment, develop new products, improve service, lower prices or raise the wages and skills of their employees, they are « returning » that money to shareholders. Corporate America, in effect, has transformed itself into one giant leveraged buyout.

moncler outlet jackets Consider Apple, the moncler outlet online world’s most valuable enterprise. As a result of a $100 billion share buyback announced last month, Apple will have returned $210 billion to shareholders since 2012. How much is $210 billion? As Robin Wigglesworth of the Financial Times reminded his Twitter followers, that’s enough to buy up the monlcer down jackets bottom 480 companies of the S 500. moncler outlet jackets

moncler jackets outlet And Apple is not alone. Last year, public companies spent more than $800 billion buying back their own shares and, thanks to all the cash freed up by the recent tax bill, Goldman Sachs estimates that share buybacks will surge to $1.2 trillion this year. That comes at a time when moncler mens jackets share prices are at an all time high so companies are buying at the top and when a growing global economy offers cheap moncler jackets the best opportunity to expand into new products and new markets. This is nothing short of corporate malpractice. moncler jackets outlet

cheap moncler The best recent research on the folly of buybacks is by two professors at Europe’s top business school, INSEAD. Looking at the 60percent of companies that have bought back their stock between 2010 and 2015, Robert Ayres and Michael Olenick calculated that the firms, as a group, spent more than 100 percent of their net profits on dividends and share repurchases. They also found that the more a company spent on buy moncler jackets buybacks, relatively speaking, the less good it did for the stock price. cheap moncler

moncler outlet sale At the 535 firms that spent the least, relatively speaking, on stock repurchases (less than 5percent of the company’s market value), market value grew by an average of 248percent. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.) moncler outlet sale

By contrast, the 64 firms that spent the most repurchasing shares (the equivalent of 100percent of market value) saw an average 22percent decline in the firm’s market value. Penney, Hewlett Packard, Macy’s, Xerox and Viacom, for all of which the primary purpose of the buybacks was to prop up the stock price in the face of disappointing operating results.

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Corporate buybacks don’t just affect individual companies, however. At this scale, buybacks are also a factor cheap moncler sale in the performance of the overall economy.

Consider that $1.2 trillion is the equivalent of more than 6 percent of the annual output or gross domestic product of the United States, the world’s largest cheap moncler outlet economy. It is larger than the GDP of all but the 15 largest countries in the world. And it is a sum that will likely far exceed the amount of money raised by the corporate sector’s issuing new stock, meaning that for another year, more equity capital is flowing out of publicly traded corporations than flowing in.

As the accompanying chart indicates, over the past decade, net issuance of public stock new issues minus buybacks has been a negative $3 trillion. This reduction in the supply of public shares in American companies, coupled with an increased global demand for them, goes a long way toward explaining why stocks are now priced at 25 times earnings, well above their historical average.

cheap moncler jackets The most significant and troubling aspect of this buyback boom, however, is that despite record corporate profits and cash flow, at least a third of the shares are being repurchased with borrowed money, bringing the corporate debt to an all time high, not only in an absolute sense but also in relation to profits, assets and the overall size of the economy. cheap moncler jackets

It used to be that issuing bonds was the most common way for corporations to borrow money. corporations. Today, it’s $5.3 trillion, after the record $1.7trillion of new bonds issued last year, according to Dealogic, and $500 billion more issued this year.

cheap moncler jackets sale In recent years, at least half of those new bonds have been either « junk » bonds, the riskiest, or BBB, the lowest rating for « investment grade » bonds. And investor demand for cheap moncler coats riskier bonds has largely been driven by the growth of bond ETFs or exchange traded funds securities that trade like stocks but are really just pools of different corporate bonds. ETFs have made it easier for individual investors to participate in the corporate bond market. A decade ago, about $15 billion worth of bond ETFs were being traded. Today, that market has grown moncler sale outlet to $300 billion. cheap moncler jackets sale

moncler outlet uk In recent years, moreover, a greater part of corporate borrowing has come in the form of bank loans that are quickly packaged into securities known as CLOs, or collateralized loan obligations, which are sliced and diced and sold off to sophisticated investors just as home loans were during the mortgage bubble. Bloomberg News recently reported that pension funds and insurance companies, particularly those in Japan, can’t get enough of the CLOs because of the higher yields that they offer. Wells Fargo estimates that a record $150 billion will be issued this year, roughly double last year’s issuance. And as happened with the late cycle home mortgages in 2007 and 2008, analysts are noticing a marked decline in the quality of loans in the CLO packages, with three quarters of them now without the standard covenants designed to reduce the chance of default. moncler outlet uk

moncler jacket sale As a result of all this corporate borrowing, Daniel Arbess of Xerion Investments calculates that more than a third of the largest global companies now are highly leveraged that is, they have at least $5 of debt for every $1 in earnings which makes them vulnerable to any downturn in profits or increase in interest rates. And 1 in 5 companies have debt service obligations that already exceed cash flow « zombies, » in the felicitous argot of Wall Street. moncler jacket sale

« A new cycle of distressed corporate credit looks to be just around the corner, » Arbess warned in February in an article published in Fortune. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research in its latest annual report on the stability of the financial system. The International Monetary Fund recently issued a similar warning.

moncler factory outlet What concerns these regulators is not simply the growth of the corporate debt market but also the change in its structure and how it will perform during a sell off. moncler factory outlet

In the past, most corporate loans were made and held by banks, while corporate bonds were held by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds that held them to maturity, keeping bond prices stable.

But with the rise of ETFs, some market analysts and observers have begun to worry about what would happen if, in response to a sudden spike in interest rates or defaults, large numbers of individual investors rushed to sell at a time when nobody is interested in buying, sending ETF prices into a tailspin.

According to a recent paper by Kevin Pan of Harvard and Yao Zeng of the University of Washington, this lack of « liquidity » in the bond market could send prices down sharply, trigger waves of panic selling and cause the market price of the ETFs to fall Moncler Outlet far below the price of the underlying bonds.

moncler outlet The ETF industry has mounted a concerted PR campaign to convince regulators and investors that the market will be able to cope with a rush of sell orders. But because these products are relatively new, nobody really knows how they will perform in a crisis. Certainly the experience with complex mortgage securities and credit default swaps during the 2008 crisis does not inspire confidence. There is also the danger of contagion that panic selling and falling prices of corporate bonds and ETFs will spread to other credit markets. moncler outlet

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moncler sale For the bigger reality is that the global economy is now awash in debt not just corporate debt but also record amounts of government debt, household debt and investor debt at a time when interest rates are rising from historically low levels moncler sale.

Jean-LucIt sacrifices future growth for present consumption
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