Ironically the Sears catalogue seems to have been the precursor to Amazon. They couldn't see what was right in front of them.

"If they had put $6 billion into upgrading stores and website development, they could be in a very different position right now," said William Lazonick, a retired University of Massachusetts economics professor and an expert in share repurchases. "They could be in a much better position to compete in the changing world of retail."

Critics say stock buybacks are a way for executives who depend upon stock and options as a major form of their compensation to boost their pay. But it's rarely a good idea said Lazonick.

"They're just a waste of money. They're only going to give a temporary price bump," he said. "For a company as troubled as Sears to be doing repurchases, it's predictable it's in the state it is now."

How Sears wasted $6 billion that could have kept it out of bankruptcy

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