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Old 04-04-2014, 12:46 PM  
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Idle cash piles up

Idle cash piles up: David Cay Johnston
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/...86F0GK20120716
Mon, Jul 16 2012
By David Cay Johnston

(Reuters) - IRS data suggests that, globally, U.S. nonfinancial companies hold at least three times more cash and other liquid assets than the Federal Reserve reports, idle money that could be creating jobs, funding dividends or even paying a stiff federal penalty tax for hoarding corporate cash.

The Fed's latest Flow of Funds report showed that U.S. nonfinancial companies held $1.7 trillion in liquid assets at the end of March. But newly released IRS figures show that in 2009 these companies held $4.8 trillion in liquid assets, which equals $5.1 trillion in today's dollars, triple the Fed figure.
Why the huge gap?

The Fed gets its data from the IRS, but only measures the flow of funds in the domestic economy. The IRS reports the worldwide holdings of U.S. companies, which I think is the more revealing measure.

From the companies' point of view, it makes perfect sense these days to hoard cash.

First, Congress lets overseas profits accumulate untaxed, so long as offshore subsidiaries own the cash. Second, companies have a hard time putting cash to work because fewer jobs and lower wages mean less demand for products and services. Third, a thick pile of cash gives risk-averse CEOs a nice cushion if the economy worsens.

Given the enduring hard times, you might think that corporations have used up their cash since 2009. But real pretax corporate profits have soared, from less than $1.5 trillion in 2009 to $1.9 trillion in 2010 and almost $2 trillion in 2011, data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis shows.

That is nearly $1 trillion of increased profits over two years, while actual taxes paid rose less than a tenth as much, BEA reports show. Dividends, wages and capital expenditures all grew less than profits, while undistributed profits rose. The result: more cash.

Bigger profits are good news, but it would have been better news had those increased profits been put to work, not laid off in accounts paying modest interest. Hoarding corporate cash in bank accounts, Treasuries and tax-exempt bonds poses a serious threat to the economy, as Congress recognized when it enacted the corporate income tax in 1909.

Let's get some perspective on these gigantic figures, all measured in today's dollars.

The 2009 cash reported to the IRS equaled America's entire economic output that year from New Year's Day through May Day.

This cash pool came to $16,700 for every man, woman and child in the United States, a 53 percent real increase from 2004, my calculations from IRS data show.

Looked at yet another way, these companies had 11.3 percent of their assets in cash, or enough to pay their 2009 corporate income tax bills, which amounted to $148 billion, more than 34 times over.

In short, U.S. companies hold vastly more cash than is needed to finance their operations.

For investors, companies holding 11.3 percent of their assets in cash lowers returns. Did you buy shares of American Widget so executives could park profits in savings accounts?

For workers, idle cash means idle hands and minds. With one in five Americans unemployed or underemployed, and real median wages in 2010 back down to the level of 1999, this is no time for capital to go on an extended holiday.
For taxpayers, untaxed profits subtly reduce corporate tax burdens and increase the tax burden on individuals. Because taxes owed on offshore profits are not adjusted for inflation, they depreciate at the rate of inflation. That means a double whammy for taxpayers as government pays interest on money it borrows while its accounts receivable from multinational corporations lose value.

Since the income tax system began, Congress has authorized a tax on excessive accumulated earnings to limit damage to the Treasury -- and the economy -- when companies hold far more cash than their operations require. Without the accumulated earnings tax, corporations can become bloated tax shelters instead of engines of growth.

A business holding more cash than its operations reasonably require can be hit with a 15 percent levy under Section 531 of the Internal Revenue Code, on top of the 35 percent corporate income tax. The Tax Court even devised a mechanical test in 1965 for how much is too much.

Historically the IRS has levied only privately owned firms or publicly traded companies with few shareholders. But Internal Revenue Code Section 531 applies to all corporations. President Ronald Reagan signed Section 532 (c), which made that explicit, though with an exception for untaxed offshore profits.

After reviewing decades of literature on these code sections, I cannot fathom any rational basis for giving multinational companies an exception to the cash hoarding rules, which discriminates against purely domestic firms.

Some of the multinational corporations say they will bring home what could be more than a trillion dollars if Congress will give them an 85 percent tax discount. The companies frame this as creating jobs. But as I showed in an earlier column, unless there are strict rules, the money can be used to buy back company stock while destroying jobs.

Want to motivate companies to put some of those trillions of dollars of idle cash to work creating jobs, paying dividends or sharing the burden of taxes? Call 1-202-224-3121 and tell your senator or representative you want Section 531 vigorously enforced - now - and the offshore loophole closed immediately.
(David Cay Johnston is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own.)
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:19 AM   #46
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Apple has also taken severe criticism from their shareholders for sitting on so much cash as well. regardless of it being overseas.
How do you know that? What was their answer? What would these "shareholders" prefer Apple do with the cash that they are not doing now?
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:24 AM   #47
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Last Shareholder meeting there were some nitwits ouside protesting but the key message was investing right..Cook said research and development spending up 32% year-over-year, Apple is putting its money “where its mouth is.” Cook added that Apple bought 23 companies over the last 16 months and that Apple is not opposed to buying a bigger company if it is the “right fit.” Cook also talked about opportunities in new emerging markets. Cook said that Apple would have an announcement regarding its share buyback program within 60 days.


Idle cash. Another one of those meanness phrases like corporate welfare that is used but never discussed as to what it actually refers to.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:28 AM   #48
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Apparently you've been asleep for the last 5 years and have missed all the commentary on the record buildup of cash and cash equivalents on balance sheets of companies.
I've read that the cash "hoard" is a complete misnomer in that it's been offset by an increase in corporate debt, which cancels out the cash buildup.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:32 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by HonestChieffan View Post
Last Shareholder meeting there were some nitwits ouside protesting but the key message was investing right..Cook said research and development spending up 32% year-over-year, Apple is putting its money “where its mouth is.” Cook added that Apple bought 23 companies over the last 16 months and that Apple is not opposed to buying a bigger company if it is the “right fit.” Cook also talked about opportunities in new emerging markets. Cook said that Apple would have an announcement regarding its share buyback program within 60 days.


Idle cash. Another one of those meanness phrases like corporate welfare that is used but never discussed as to what it actually refers to.
Apple recently put $500 million into AT Advanced Technologies to open a new facility here in AZ to manufacture the next generation of screens for their devices. It's a cool technology using emeralds to make stronger, more brilliant screens.

Amusingly enough they bought the facility from a solar energy firm that built a brand new plant and never did a single day of business out of it. They got this beautiful structure for pennies on the dollar...
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:37 AM   #50
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Apple recently put $500 million into AT Advanced Technologies to open a new facility here in AZ to manufacture the next generation of screens for their devices. It's a cool technology using emeralds to make stronger, more brilliant screens.

Amusingly enough they bought the facility from a solar energy firm that built a brand new plant and never did a single day of business out of it. They got this beautiful structure for pennies on the dollar...

Good for them, thats why they are a winner.


Great background on that...they bought it and are leasing it to the company that makes glass for Apple. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/...izona/3440009/
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:38 AM   #51
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Amazing the depths of your stupidity.
My thoughts exactly. Jenson is permanently dense.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:39 AM   #52
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Good for them, thats why they are a winner.
The free market and capitalism BABY !!
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:41 AM   #53
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Good for them, thats why they are a winner.
Yeah it's quite an operation...
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:46 AM   #54
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That cash is absolutely idle. Cash and short term equivalents don't make any money for the business (helloooo low interest rates) and they aren't being invested into the company to produce growth. Apparently you've been asleep for the last 5 years and have missed all the commentary on the record buildup of cash and cash equivalents on balance sheets of companies.

Also, interest on loans is a deductible expense. Companies use debt as a tax shield all the time.

And finally, companies aren't jumping through all sort of hoops to make this stuff happen. They set up the subsidiaries in other jurisdictions and everything else is a matter of journal entries.
But, doesn't that scream uncertainty?

With financial institutions, remember my article about how the stock market is rigged?

I wonder how many of the big banks own or control those HFT firms? Makes you think they prefer using their free cash to skim mutual funds over making loans to brick and mortar companies.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:04 AM   #55
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Re:Apple and Cash.....http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fd8ae9f0-8...#axzz2y7tYjzHB
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:22 AM   #56
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How do you know that? What was their answer? What would these "shareholders" prefer Apple do with the cash that they are not doing now?
JFC, if you even have to ask these questions you need to get out of the thread altogether. Do yourself a favor and Google it, you might learn something. I'll give you 2 clues....dividend and stock buyback
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:26 AM   #57
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Last Shareholder meeting there were some nitwits ouside protesting but the key message was investing right..Cook said research and development spending up 32% year-over-year, Apple is putting its money “where its mouth is.” Cook added that Apple bought 23 companies over the last 16 months and that Apple is not opposed to buying a bigger company if it is the “right fit.” Cook also talked about opportunities in new emerging markets. Cook said that Apple would have an announcement regarding its share buyback program within 60 days.


Idle cash. Another one of those meanness phrases like corporate welfare that is used but never discussed as to what it actually refers to.
You seriously have no clue about Wall St. I hate to say it, HCF, I agree with you on a lot of things but economics and Wall St. is not one of them.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:44 AM   #58
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You seriously have no clue about Wall St. I hate to say it, HCF, I agree with you on a lot of things but economics and Wall St. is not one of them.

Thats fine, I don't care if we agree. But I do have a passing interest in Apple beyond my iPhone. They do a bang up job of communication with shareholders. I read your comments because I think you are honest. Perhaps a bit misguided on this newfound anti business thing, but you are fundamentally a great poster.

You reference shareholder complaints about Apples Cash. But other than the usual shareholder protests that go on with every company with every loon group and as well as actual non loon complaints, there is nothing to overwhelming on this issue.

Cook did a great job at Annual meeting defending the cash stockpile and its well mown they are discussing options that could include a dividend payout or a new form of stock.

Where you and a lot of others go of track is when you fail to look at the specifics and pile all of the cash in all the companies in all the countries of the world and get all crazy over cash.

You, lime many want it back home and back in the economy. So here you have it....If My company has the cash now...and you make me bring it home, you will take some of it in a tax or penalty. I keep the rest. Has anything changed that will get me to use what I have left after you confiscate my earned money? No...I didn't invest it before. I won't now.

So the only good to come was the Government took my money. Pray tell, what will they do with it that is productive?

Back to my original question that you chose to deflect....you said "Apple has also taken severe criticism from their shareholders for sitting on so much cash as well. regardless of it being overseas."

I call bullshit and hyperbole....criticism...yes. Severe ..no.

They also have taken criticism for green energy and how they design office space.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:48 AM   #59
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Thats fine, I don't care if we agree. But I do have a passing interest in Apple beyond my iPhone. They do a bang up job of communication with shareholders. I read your comments because I think you are honest. Perhaps a bit misguided on this newfound anti business thing, but you are fundamentally a great poster.

You reference shareholder complaints about Apples Cash. But other than the usual shareholder protests that go on with every company with every loon group and as well as actual non loon complaints, there is nothing to overwhelming on this issue.

Cook did a great job at Annual meeting defending the cash stockpile and its well mown they are discussing options that could include a dividend payout or a new form of stock.

Where you and a lot of others go of track is when you fail to look at the specifics and pile all of the cash in all the companies in all the countries of the world and get all crazy over cash.

You, lime many want it back home and back in the economy. So here you have it....If My company has the cash now...and you make me bring it home, you will take some of it in a tax or penalty. I keep the rest. Has anything changed that will get me to use what I have left after you confiscate my earned money? No...I didn't invest it before. I won't now.

So the only good to come was the Government took my money. Pray tell, what will they do with it that is productive?

Back to my original question that you chose to deflect....you said "Apple has also taken severe criticism from their shareholders for sitting on so much cash as well. regardless of it being overseas."

I call bullshit and hyperbole....criticism...yes. Severe ..no.

They also have taken criticism for green energy and how they design office space.
This is your ignorance on display. There was a lot of pressure on Apple until recently and for quite a while. It's out there, all you have to do is Google it. You can call bullshit and hyperbole all you want, it just makes you look that much more uninformed.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:52 AM   #60
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My thoughts exactly. Jenson is permanently dense.

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