How American CEOs got so rich

For a long time, it was off-limits for a corporation to buy back its own stock. Not anymore.

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American companies today spend billions on stock buybacks. So what does that mean for the US economy? And how did it help make American CEOs so unbelievably rich?

To learn more about stock buybacks, General Motors, and the Lordstown GM plant, check out the following sources:

William Lazonick, Harvard Business Review: Profits Without Prosperity (

Irina Lendel, Melissa Piazza, Matthew Ellerbrock, Cleveland State University: Lordstown GM Plant Closure Economic Impact Study (

Emily Stewart, Vox: Walmart is paying $20 billion to shareholders. With that money, it could boost hourly wages to over $15. (

Jane G. Gravelle and Donald J. Marples, Congressional Research Service: The Economic Effects of the 2017 Tax Revision: Preliminary Observations (

Stephen Mihm, Bloomberg: How Stock Buybacks Ambled Into Stardom (

Lawrence Mishel and Julia Wolfe, Economic Policy Institute: CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978 ( Policy Institute)

Irina Ivanova, CBS: GM bought back $10 billion in stock since 2015, double what job cuts will save ( is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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40 thoughts on “How American CEOs got so rich”

  1. I’m not saying I’m for or against stock buybacks, but how is a buyback materially different than paying a dividend? You’re just going about it in a more tax friendly way, but the concept is the same: giving your shareholders a portion of your earnings.

  2. outlaw buybacks and activity on the stock market will plummet down to 15% of what it was today. Meanwhile we're out here with NO buybacks on every transaction fending for our lives. They're just passing around the same pool of money : once you hit the millionaire's club, the goal is absorb new money from poorer people. Integral to maintaining this lie is having periodic access to non-trivial amounts of money at the right time. Most people cant trade daily even if they want to . Meanwhile , another class spends money they never created.

  3. Thanks for this amazing information !! If you don't find a means of multiplying money, you will wake up one day to realize that the money you thought you had, has finished. Investment is key, I pray that anyone who reads this will be successful in life

  4. the premise that they bought their own stock so they could get rich is off base. The capital to buy the stock is coming from the company – the collective accumulated profits – cash they have – so they would have had less cash in the company and created a higher risk. many went bankrupt doing that

  5. You don't know what they did and the deal they've made with the devil. They started a new class war and even got black people involved.

    To be continued… Before they get me for exposing their children.

  6. I don’t see what the problem is, they spent less money reinvesting into the company that will mean their company will not grow, and in fact likely shrink, soon they won’t even be a problem, and someone else can take over

  7. corporations are the closest things to inherently evil that there is. expecting them to voluntarily do whats best for the world without profiting from it would be like expecting Hitler to simply choose to give up out of the goodness of his heart. its not even possible, much less likely

  8. This "Multiplier Effect" also was evident in Detroit, and when the residents who were greatly employed by GM lost their jobs, the local economics suffered, affecting property taxes, schools, and local businesses.

  9. Eventually most of these companies claim BK. It's also why the stock market needs even more regulation in order to control profit seeking behaviors that aren't for the better of the company but the better of the stock holders.

  10. Get an MBA from Harvard, Wharton, Stanford ect. Do exceptionally well, make the right connections and get into a CEO position at a Fortune 500 company. Everyone has the same opportunity. Instead of crying and blaming maybe do something about it. We live in the best country in the world

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