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Data: PwC analysis of Refinitiv data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Merger and acquisition activity in the U.S. is on pace to substantially surpass last year’s total deal value, as companies sit on tons of cash, and debt financing remains cheap, according to a PwC outlook published this morning.

Why it matters: It’s another sign that the economic recovery is firing on all cylinders. Even with public markets trading at sky-high valuations, buyers are stepping in.

By the numbers: From 2016 to 2020, the annual U.S. deal value totaled an average of $1.8 trillion.

  • Through May of this year, U.S. deal value already amounts to $1.4 trillion.

What they’re saying: PwC predicts that the year-over-year volume increase this year could exceed 10%.

Context: Megadeals, and "not-quite-megadeals," are a large driver of the activity.

  • Through May, 54 megadeals (at least $5 billion in size) have been announced, matching the number of megadeals in all of last year.
  • Since then, Medline unveiled the largest pure LBO since the financial crisis.
  • Deals between $1 billion and $5 billion are also accelerating, with 200 transactions in the first five months of the year, compared with an average of 230 announcements annually in the previous five years.

What to watch: Private equity and SPAC activity through the second half could help drive deal flow higher.

  • Private equity firms are "more active than ever," with 39% of this year’s deal volume — compared to the mid-to-high 20% area in 2017-19. And they’re still sitting on loads of capital to deploy.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The private climate finance surge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There's so much private equity and infrastructure fund action in the climate tech space these days that it's hard to keep up.

Driving the news: Brookfield Asset Management on Tuesday closed $7 billion for its Global Transition Fund that aims to scale clean energy and help carbon-intensive industries cut emissions.

Updated Jul 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group reaches agreement on $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

After weeks of long nights and endless Zoom calls, a bipartisan group of senators finally reached a deal on "the major issues" in their $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure package, GOP senators involved in the talks announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It could be days before the group finishes writing the bill, but the Senate can begin debating the legislation in earnest now that they have resolved the outstanding issues. The bill needs 60 votes to advance in the Senate.

School principals are not OK

Principal Alice Hom (purple jacket) of New York's Yung Wing School P.S. 124 near a vaccination van in November. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

The overwhelming majority of secondary school principals experienced frequent stress last school year, according to a RAND Corporation report out Wednesday.

The big picture: The stress levels among female principals and principals of color were especially stark, with nearly 40% in these groups reporting constant job-related stress, compared to about 24% of male principals and 26% of white principals.