Mar 20, 2020 - Economy & Business

Biden calls on CEOs to refrain from stock buybacks amid coronavirus bailouts

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden called on CEOs on Friday to make a commitment against stock buybacks, as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The demand comes as an increasing number of industries have called for economic relief from the effects of the pandemic. Companies in many of those industries have come under fire for using extra funds from tax relief to repurchase their own shares in recent years.

  • President Trump told reporters Thursday he would be okay with banning companies from buybacks as a condition for federal relief.
"I am calling on every CEO in America to publicly commit now to not buying back their company's stock over the course of the next year. As workers face the physical and economic consequences of the coronavirus, our corporate leaders cannot cede responsibility for their employees."
— Former Vice President Joe Biden on Twitter

Go deeper ... Stock buyback binge: 2019 is setting a record pace

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Big Pharma is on a stock buyback spree

Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

In 2018, the year the Republican tax law went into full effect, 12 of the largest pharmaceutical companies spent more money buying back their stock than they spent on drug research and development.

The big picture: When billions of dollars became available to the biggest drug companies, their main priority was to juice earnings, along with the paydays of their executives and investors — not investments in new treatments or relief for patients who can't afford their drugs.

Go deeperArrowMar 5, 2020 - Health

Companies hunker down for worst-case economic scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

What a difference a month makes.

Then: The nation's largest companies were on top of the world — buying back stock, watching their share prices flirt with all-time highs and hiring in droves.

Now: Corporate America is prepping for what could be a very lengthy and severe recession.

Debate night: Sanders and Biden go head-to-head

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images.

Sunday's Democratic debate was the primary season's first one-on-one match, with former Vice President Joe Biden taking on Sen. Bernie Sanders on the coronavirus, the "political revolution," women's health, climate, the rise of authoritarianism around the world and minority voter support.

Why it matters: It could be the last primary debate of the 2020 election. Biden is significantly leading in delegates and poised to do well in upcoming nominating contests. He's also adopted more progressive policies from Sanders and former 2020 contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren to draw in their supporters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy