Fortune

DECISION TIME

IN THE THIRD QUARTER OF 2007, at the summit of the last bull market, U.S. companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 purchased a staggering $172 billion worth of their own stock. Some two years later, when those same shares were priced like week-old biscuits, CEOs couldn’t find a bargain worth snatching—at least when it came to their own stocks.

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