Fewest Stocks Traded In 32 Years - The Market Is Disappearing In One Giant Leveraged Buyout

The number of common stocks traded on major U.S. exchanges are the fewest in three decades.

As CNBC reports, "Currently, there are just 3,267 stocks in the University of Chicago's CRSP data, and this is the lowest since 1984," wrote longtime Jefferies equity strategist Steven DeSanctis.


What's behind this phenomenon? DeSanctis explains:

"Between the lack of IPO activity, the pickup of M&A, and buybacks, the U.S. equity world is becoming smaller and smaller, and this could be one of many reasons why active managers are lagging behind their indexes. Companies may not want to come public due to the additional cost of Sarbanes-Oxley or the fact that the private market has become a bigger source of financing than it has been in the past."

So whether it's the total number of stocks or the amount of shares for each company outstanding, the stock market is shrinking.

Or as Dark Bid's Daniel Drew previously noted, The Stock Market Is Disappearing In One Giant Leveraged Buyout

It's easy to find critics and doomsayers who predict that the next stock market crash is just around the corner. They could be right, but another possibility is that the stock market itself will disappear entirely.

Anyone who is familiar with mergers and acquisitions knows what happens when a company is being slowly acquired. The price climbs higher, slowly yet relentlessly. Liquidity evaporates as offers are lifted. If the price moves up too quickly, buy programs are canceled. The buyer waits until the froth dies down a little before resuming purchases. Eventually, the bids reappear, and the process continues. Once the buyer acquires 5% of the company, a legal requirement is triggered: the SEC requires the buyer to file Schedule 13D, otherwise known as a "beneficial ownership report." Once this report is filed, everyone can see the buyer, and the stock price will usually jump.

This same process has been underway in the stock market over the last 6 years. The market is up well over 200%. Liquidity has evaporated in the S&P 500 futures market, and the central banks themselves are buying S&P 500 futures. Companies are spending nearly all of their profits on stock buybacks.

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Danny Furman 5 years ago Contributor's comment

interesting quantification of an obvious phenomenon, the same can be said for gold and silver