Ken Fisher: Stock Buybacks Are Not Evil

In a recent USA Today article, famed investor Ken Fisher argues against the stance of some politicians that share buybacks should be banned, instead declaring they’re “great—for everyone. When firms repurchase shares, they destroy stock supply. Econ 101 taught us supply and demand move prices. Shrinking supply? Bullish!”

Fisher goes on to argue how lower share supply also boosts per-share earnings and that the capital returned to shareholders can then be invested elsewhere. “Buybacks,” he argues, “speed investment to its best, most productive use. What’s not to love?” Fisher takes to task the notion that they stand in the way of wage increases, calling such an argument “lunacy.” Wages, he explains, are determined by the supply and demand of labor, and “if firms don’t need to raise wages to keep and hire good talent, they won’t.” The mere existence of healthy cash balances, Fisher asserts, “isn’t a meaningful driver of payroll or investment decisions.”

Prohibiting share buybacks, he concludes, is “bad for everyone—shareholders, CEOs and workers alike. It restricts firms from returning cash to shareholders.” Banning them, he says, “banishes all wonderful chain reactions. Almost everyone suffers.”