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Expand chart
Data: S&P 500; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The stock market decline comes despite a record level of buybacks — more than $200 billion in the last quarter alone, up some 58% from a year ago.

Why it matters: It's a lot easier for companies to reduce buybacks than it is for them to reduce dividends. If and when earnings start to decline, it should be quite easy for buybacks to fall in tandem.

  • Buybacks are rising mainly because companies have been very cautious about raising their dividends. If you look at the level of dividends and buybacks combined, it tracks very closely with total corporate earnings, which have been growing impressively.
  • In 2007 and 2015, earnings fell below the amount that companies were spending on buybacks and dividends. That's no longer the case.

Go deeper

CNN: Pentagon watchdog says Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to an official report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.

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