One thing that hasn't been quite said about buybacks is that it is one more piece of evidence that the private sector is becoming more and more important.
Clearly many of these companies doing buybacks are at least thinking about becoming private companies, or at least relying less on the public markets. For many reasons - not the least the extra cost of regulation of public companies and the instability of the stock market.
I believe we'll see more and more companies go completely private - no shares sold to the public - as they try to get away from the gov't and from the stock market.
They will need capital, obviously, but that won't be too hard to get - there is a gigantic flood of cash everywhere looking for a home. That's why bond yields are so low - there is just so much money around.
So...if I am right that there will be many companies going private...you want to own shares, because companies will be a buyer, as will hedge funds anticipating lveraged buyouts and the like.