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William Lazonick: Big payouts to shareholders are holding back prosperity

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William Lazonick
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This development, the financialisation of British business corporations, has them hot on the heels of their American counterparts. For the decade 2001-2010, 459 companies in the S&P 500 Index, almost all of which are US-based, expended $1.9 trillion, or 40% of net income, on dividends, and $2.7 tn, or 54% of net income, on share buybacks, leaving only 6% of profits to potentially be invested for the future.

In the United States, I have called for a ban on share buybacks in particular and a major reform of corporate governance in general.

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