Tags: Corporate | Cash | Economy

WSJ: Corporate Cash Piles Seen Buffering Economy

Monday, 19 Dec 2011 09:46 AM

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Corporations have drawn criticism for not investing their massive stockpiles of cash, but now some are saying all that money may shield the U.S. economy from shockwaves from a worsening European crisis.

Nonfinancial companies held more than $2.1 trillion in cash and other liquid assets at the end of September, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing Federal Reserve data.

Furthermore, corporations took in $261.98 billion more than they spent in the third quarter of this year.

Critics say companies should invest some of that cash, which would create jobs and in turn, lead to more economic growth and strong earnings down the road.

However, the European debt crisis is raging on and should a country default and spark a financial crisis and credit crunch, all that cash could come in handy.

"Economists agree that the biggest risk to the U.S. from Europe would be through a disturbance in the financial markets," The Wall Street Journal reports in an analysis.

"If a debt tsunami moves across the Atlantic, those satchels of cash could act as sandbags."

Other experts don't blame corporations.

Dark clouds may be gathering across the Atlantic and threaten the U.S. economy.

"The notion of 'fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me' is fully reflected in corporate balance sheets," says Jeff Greenberg, an economist at Nomura in New York, according to Reuters.

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