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 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m. ET: 32,381,243 — Total deaths: 985,104 — Total recoveries: 22,285,437Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m ET: 7,015,242 — Total deaths: 203,329 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

White House pushes to uphold TikTok ban

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday filed legal opposition to TikTok's request to delay a ban on downloading the app, with a judge expected to rule before the ban is set to go into effect Sunday.

Why it matters: The White House could have simply postponed the ban on its own for another week or two, as it did last Friday. This move suggests it's seeking to use the ban as leverage in ongoing negotiations.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Substack and the future of media

Traditional media models, and even some of the digital ones, are either under pressure or outright broken. Some journalists have responded by going out on their own, leveraging a new group of startups that help them self-publish and monetize their work.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with Chris Best, CEO of Substack, which has more than 250,000 paying subscribers on its writer network.

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