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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

2021 isn't quite over yet, but it's already been a record-shattering, eviscerating, gralloching year for mergers and acquisitions.

Driving the news: Global M&A topped $5.5 trillion through last Thursday, including more than $2.4 trillion for U.S. targets, per Refinitiv.

  • And that was before Oracle agreed to pay $28 billion for Cerner or BMO agreed to pay $16.3 billion for Bank of the West. Preliminary year-end data will be released by Refinitiv late next week.
  • For context, global M&A never previously topped $3.5 trillion. The prior U.S. peak was around $1.55 trillion.

Private equity-backed deals also hit new highs, topping $1 trillion for the first time ever. Ditto for venture capital (almost no matter how you define it) and SPACs.

What to know: This isn't just about the dollars, which could be partially explained away by equity valuation inflation. There's also been an unprecedented number of deals, topping 58,000 globally and 14,400 in the U.S.

Look ahead: Dealmakers say that 2022 will be another very strong year, but there are reasons to expect at least a little pullback.

  • Some of those are things that will happen next year, like interest rate hikes and a contentious U.S. election season.
  • Some are about 2021 being in the sweet spot for deal activity, which 2022 won't match. For example, deals got pulled forward into 2021 because of tax code change concerns. And there also were deals that should have gotten done in 2020, but were delayed for COVID reasons.

The bottom line: Yeah, gralloching.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

White House braces for brutal inflation report

Photo: Courtesy of the White House

The White House is bracing for another bad report Wednesday on inflation — but now expects it to slow down by the end of the year, administration officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Biden administration had been labeling price hikes as "transitory." By publicly warning the Consumer Price Index December reading shows inflation will linger through 2022, officials are trying to temper public expectations and minimize the bad-news blow.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The judge said the most prominent far-right figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.

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