The recent huge corporate tax cut was supposed to encourage companies to invest and to hire more workers. Investments made by Standard & Poor’s 500 largest companies has been $475 billion in the first three quarters of the year,19% up. R & D has risen by 34% during the same period.
But the above figures disguise a more objectionable trend: stock buybacks, which increase the value of the shares for the benefit of company executives. Buybacks have totaled $579 billion in the first three quarters of 2018. Instead of raising wages or avoiding layoffs. At the same time dividend payments are running at record levels. Meanwhile capital expenditure by companies remains largely on a trend similar to that before the tax cuts.
Meanwhile, average earnings of private sector workers are up 2.8% in 2018.
In other words, trickle-down, as usual, isn’t trickling down. It never did, but it has been used for decades as a means of making the rich (donors) richer and conning the public, some of whom, in Democrat-leaning areas, are ending up paying more, not less tax. On the other hand one has to acknowledge that the money that returns to investors is usually re-invested in companies that need the investment, and this is a plus for the economy. Overall, however, the majority of buybacks add little to national wealth.