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One big takeaway from this year's Milken conference: attendees were obsessing about the outsized cash environment.

Why it matters: Too much cash is never a bad thing, but it's disrupting norms.

What they're saying:

  • Startups are putting off IPOs, thanks to big capital raises on the private side. "The amount of funding in the private markets has been greater each year. These companies in effect are getting all the capital they need privately. Whereas before they would go public," Dan Levitan, co-founder of venture capital firm Maveron, told Axios' Dan Primack on stage.
  • Companies are flush with cash, but unloading their cash pile via buybacks has become more controversial. Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel told me: "There are some people who believe that companies should be restricted from using their capital to buy back their shares. I don't understand the logic on that at all."

The intrigue: Often these conversations were happening as attendees debated the whether or not capitalism was working.

  • One example: At the final session of the conference, Ray Dalio questioned whether capitalism was "producing the outcome" of shared prosperity and cited stagnant income per capita.

Meantime, Carter Lyons of investment firm Two Sigma said on a panel that his biggest worry was the impact that growing populism and proposals like "financial transaction taxes" could have on liquidity in public or private markets. That could cause a lot of disruption in the short or long term, Lyons said.

Go deeper: The Milken Conference's diversity problem

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

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