Approximately 21 of the nation's largest banks have reported their earnings in the past two weeks. In aggregate, these 21 companies posted 2018 earnings of $154.6 billion. The common equity of these companies grew by a net $2.4 billion over the same time frame.
Implicit in these numbers is that these banks paid out $152.2 billion of their earnings to their shareholders in stock buybacks and dividends. It is believed that they did this because Boards of Directors and managements felt strongly that these payouts would increase the value of their stocks. Not only did this not happen from Dec. 30, 2017 to Jan. 23, 2019, but in every case, but one, the stocks also went down in price.
The only company where this did not happen was at a California bank, First Republic, that issued more stock and did not buy back anything from shareholders. That stock went up 10 percent in price.