The rise in buy-backs and deals marks a turning point in the credit cycle, as companies become more willing to invest their cash and borrow more money. Since the 2008 financial crisis, many companies have been hoarding cash and building up ever greater treasure chests and rainy-day funds.
No more of that prudent stuff. But hire, boost capital spending, or fund R&D? Heavens no! Much better to do M&A or buy your own stock. And if you don’t have enough money to fund those noble pursuits, well just borrow it. Senior management loves stock buybacks because they boost the value of their options packages. And if things go sour? Well Uncle Sam can always help out.