Daniel Gross at Slate writes:
This year is shaping up to be a record for both leveraged buyouts and stock buybacks. According to Thomson Financial, buyouts worth $334.5 billion have been announced or completed so far this year, up from $115 billion for all of last year. According to Standard & Poor's, members of the S&P 500 Index spent $325.15 billion on their own shares in the first three quarters of 2006 and have spent more than $674 billion since Jan. 1, 2005. Between buybacks and buyouts, that's more than $1.1 trillion of stock taken out of public hands in less than two years.