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Stock information is displayed on a monitor at Nasdaq's office in Times Square. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Multibillion-dollar stock market debuts from companies like Zoom, Uber and Pinterest have grabbed headlines in 2019 with eye-popping numbers, but new data shows IPO activity actually declined significantly this year, globally and in the U.S.

What's happening: Capital raised for both domestic and cross-border IPOs fell by 37% year-over-year, with volume down 34%, multinational law firm Baker McKenzie reports.

  • The decline from 2018's first 6 months was sharper than expected, with a total of $69.8 billion raised through June across 514 deals, the lowest for both measures since 2016.
  • Cross-border IPO activity fell particularly hard, with a 16% drop in volume and a 55% drop in value compared to 2018.
  • One asterisk to the numbers: the prolonged government shutdown that froze IPO filings for much of January.

Why it matters: A global slowdown in mergers and acquisitions, manufacturing and now capital generation and IPOs shows that 2019 has been an especially tough year for business.

  • The drop in cross-border IPOs may reflect yet another way commerce is being slowed by growing nationalism and fading globalization.

On the other hand: While 2019 has hardly been the best of times, Tom Rice, partner at Baker McKenzie, expects the second half of the year to show "some rays of light."

  • Rice says the U.S. stock market selloff in December coupled with the government shutdown — the longest on record, shuttering the SEC for more than a month — played a major role in the decline of both the number of IPOs and the amount of cash raised by businesses.

What's next? With those disruptions now in the rear-view mirror, Rice is confident the IPO market has strong momentum heading into the second half of the year, especially with the S&P 500 again nearing all-time highs and recent IPOs from companies like Fiverr, Beyond Meat and Chewy riding waves of bullish investor sentiment.

  • "Tensions with China may result in some slowing and more cautious activity in terms of capital formation by Chinese-operated companies looking to list in places like the U.S., but that’s only one piece of the action."

Watch this space: The one part of the world for which Rice does not have high hopes this year is Europe, where business remains paralyzed because of Brexit and the deteriorating economic environment.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office faces fresh charges

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office faces fresh charges, according to a criminal complaint amended Tuesday.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, who was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, is suspected of being the woman featured in a video saying, "dude, put on gloves," before a man's gloved hand reaches for the laptop, per the Department of Justice.

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

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