The figure running down the page shows the 50 largest American corporations (based on market capitalization). The green bars show the cash on hand. The red bars show the debt. The companies are sorted based on the amount of cash they have on hand, in descending order.
Scroll down the page and you will see virtually all of the names are ones you recognize. That makes sense. These are huge corporations that dominate the global economy. That's why they are household names.
Added together, these companies hold about $3.7 TRILLION dollars in cash. That is a little more than the entire United States government spent last year. In other words, these 50 companies have enough cash to do everything the federal government did last year, and still have $500 Billion left over. That includes fighting two wars.
What is striking about these global leaders is that even within these rarified circles, almost all the cash is highly concentrated into very few hands, and those hands all belong to investment bankers.
Goldman Sachs has close to $800 billion.
JP Morgan has more than $760 billion.
Citi has about $730 billion.
Bank of America has a hair over $700 billion,
with "a hair" being equal to $100 million.
THAT IS ALL CASH.
Together, these four investment banks have about $2.986 Trillion IN CASH. That is 80% of all the cash held by the 50 largest corporations in America.
Now it is true, some of these firms hold massive debt. JP Morgan and Bank of America each hold over $800 Billion in debt. BofA holds almost $900 billion in debt. But when you compare their debt/cash ratios they are doing a hell of a lot better than GE, Ford, Verizon, ATT or WalMart.
Mike Shedlock provides this interactive graphic on his website (courtesy of Ellie Fields and Ross Perez of Tableau Software). He uses this graphic to dispute the claim being made in the popular press that there is a lot of cash "sitting on the sidelines" and ready to enter the economy. He argues that is not the case once you take into account the amount of debt these companies are carrying.
As you can see, the total cash (in green) for the top 50 companies is $3.71 trillion, which sure sounds like a hell of a lot of cash, and it would be were it not for the debt (in red) totaling $4.45 trillion.
The point Shedlock makes is true, but it is also true that most of that debt is held by companies that hold most of the cash. One company in particular, Goldman Sachs, is not burdened by this problem. They have almost $400 Billion in excess cash. That is after you figure in their debt. These are the guys we gave hundreds of billions of dollars to as Bush and Co. were heading out the door. These are the guys who are now holding our government hostage because they want EXTRA tax cuts on all that lucre.
These are the criminals George Carlin railed against.
These are the criminals Alan Grayson wanted to make accountable.
These are the criminals Inside Job investigated.
These are the guys who are screwing us. Big Time.
The Bottom Line:
$400 Billion buys a lot of influence. Now that Citizens United is the law of the land, Goldman Sachs -- by itself -- could spend less than one tenth of one percent of its cash every year, and still spend over $1 million a day buying political influence. Even with their debt loads, the other investment banks could easily pony up an additional one tenth of one percent of their respective cash to do the same thing. Which means those four investment banks -- by themselves -- can buy $4 million dollars in political influence every day and still have money to burn.
As of this moment, there is only one conclusion that can be drawn from this data. The oligarchs have won. All the gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and general dismay over Obama's failure to fight for working people isn't going to change that picture. Now that you know that, and now that you know the political system is no longer responsive to people like you and me, we are confronted with a very pointed existential question.
What are you going to do?
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