via The Washington Post I by Douglas MacMillan, Peter Whoriskey & Jonathan O’Connell I December 16, 2020

America’s biggest companies are flourishing during the pandemic and putting thousands of people out of work

“…Companies often buy their own stock during difficult economic periods to signal to the market that management still believes in their prospects. But those buybacks also mean companies are taking money that could have been invested into employees and innovation and giving it to shareholders, who tend to be high-income individuals and families.

“This is a global crisis but the big companies are not treating it as one — they haven’t skipped a beat,” said William Lazonick, an emeritus economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. “Apple gave back tens of billions of dollars to shareholders,” he added. “It’s sick.”

Apple spent $41 billion buying shares and paying cash dividends between April and September, more than twice as much as the company with the next highest total, Microsoft. The tech giants top the list partly because they have come under pressure from shareholders to return some of their enormous stockpiles of cash…”

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