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The Trump Tax Cuts Haven't Boosted Real Estate Investment Yet

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump

Though it is still too early to make final judgments on the impact of the Republican tax law passed at the end of 2017, early corporate behavior has not been encouraging.

The plan spearheaded by President Donald Trump slashed the corporate tax rate, aiming to put more money in the pockets of companies to invest in expansion and wages. But so far, all companies have done with the extra revenue is buy back stock and pay dividends to shareholders, the New York Times reports.

The Times held up heavy machinery company Caterpillar as an example, citing the company's strong year amid increased demand. The company has used its windfall to buy back shares in its company for the first time since 2015 as a means of boosting its stock's value, with the company's chief financial officer telling shareholders, “We feel we have the necessary bricks-and-mortar capacity that we need,” in a recent earnings call as reported by the Times.

The tech industry has been one of the few sectors increasing spending, with Google parent company Alphabet Inc. and Amazon both making big investments in real estate — the former in data centers and the latter in its distribution network. But even as their investment heavily influences the overall numbers, buybacks and dividends have increased at a faster pace among companies that have released their first-quarter earnings.

Economists cautioned that one quarter is not enough time to get a definitive picture of corporate behavior, and that changes in spending behavior can lag months behind changes in revenue streams. But as major corporations' first priorities seem to be in boosting their stock prices, the real estate market has yet to see its expected windfall.