With the August 2 default deadline looming on the calendar and a deal not yet in sight, the United States is starting to run low on funds. But just how cash-strapped is the U.S.? As on July 13, the U.S. Treasury had $39.4 billion in its coffers--approximately the amount Google had on hand at that time. To put that number into even better perspective, Zero Hedge, a financial blog, compiled a list of the 29 publicly traded companies with more cash than the Treasury.
The most cash-rich company is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and (perhaps tellingly) three of the top four companies on the list are Chinese. The top U.S. firm was Bank of America with the third most cash, followed by JPMorgan at No. 5 and Morgan Stanley at No. 6. Marie Diamond of ThinkProgress sees the data as evidence that undermines much of the GOP.'s position in the debt talks. "The numbers effectively rebut Republican claims that the government has plenty of money to keep funding essential services while paying down its debt," Diamond writes. "It also belies GOP claims that companies are in need of lower corporate taxes."
Another interesting way to look at the list, of course, is through the lens of federal bailouts. Bank of America, JPMorgan, and General Electric all got propped up by the federal government during the financial crisis and all are on Zero Hedge's list. Berkshire Hathaway, also present, certainly wouldn't have had quite as good a period without government support of the companies in its portfolio, as the Christian Science Monitor pointed out back in 2010. And Freddie Mac, which has about $33 billion more than the institution that took it over in 2008? The air is thick with irony. It seems each of these companies likely wouldn't be so flush with cash without the cash-strapped government's support.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.