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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: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
14 hours ago - Economy & Business

The unicorn stampede is coming

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Airbnb and DoorDash plan to go public in the next few weeks, capping off a very busy year for IPOs.

What's next: You ain't seen nothing yet.