Global merger and acquisition activity hit $3.9 trillion in 2019, according to Refinitiv.

Why it matters: That represents a 3% decrease from 2018, but was still the fourth-largest dollar volume in history and sixth straight year above $3 trillion.

  • Record-high stock markets and laughably-low interest rates proved more compelling than rising regulatory, geopolitical, and trade uncertainties.

Activity was driven by mega-deals, or transactions valued at more than $10 billion.

  • Mega-deals represented 31% of the global total, a sizable jump from 2018 and the largest-such percentage since 2015 (the busiest-ever year for M&A).
  • This trend also is reflected in how the number of deals decreased 5% year-over-year, and represented a 3-year low.

U.S. deal activity was another upward driver, hitting $1.8 trillion.

  • That's a 6% rise over 2018, and includes 15 of the year's 20 largest announced transactions.
  • The year's largest deal was in the U.S. healthcare sector (+26% year-over-year), with Bristol-Myers Squibb buying Celgene for $74 billion.

Europe and Asia-Pacific (ex-Japan) volume fell 25% and 14%, respectively.

  • Cross-border deals were off 25%, hitting its lowest volume in five years.

The bottom line: 2019 was bolstered by a busy fourth quarter, and it wouldn't be surprising to see that extend a bit into 2020. But then all bets are off — particularly in a presidential election year that could cause some bulls to slow their stampede.

Go deeper: Anti-trust uncertainty is the new normal for dealmakers

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 30,199,007 — Total deaths: 946,490— Total recoveries: 20,544, 967Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 6,675,593 — Total deaths: 197,644 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans wouldn't get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Bloomberg's anti-chaos theory

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions Joe Biden last night at a drive-in town hall in Moosic, Pa., outside Scranton. Photo: CNN

Mike Bloomberg's $100 million Florida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.