Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.UK Housing Market Affordability, House Prices Momentum and Trend Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Gold and Silver Sector Big Green Light and Low Risk Entry Setup... - Clive_Maund
3.UK Regional House Prices, Cheapest and Most Expensive Property Markets - Nadeem_Walayat
4.US Dollar, CRB, Oil, Gas, Copper and Gold - The Chartology of Deflation - Rambus_Chartology
5.Silver Price, COT, US Dollar Updates and More - Dan_Norcini
6.Will Gold Price Drop Below $1000 Soon? - Brad_Gudgeon
7.UK Regional House Prices Analysis - Video - Nadeem_Walayat
8.Crude Oil Swinging For The Fences - A 20 to 1 Option Play - Bob_Kirtley
9.Fed’s Tarullo: U.S. Interest Rates Liftoff Should Wait for Signs of Inflation - Bloomberg
10.UK Immigration Crisis Hits New Extreme of 336k Net Migration, up 32% on 2014 - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 5 days
Globalist Lockdown is here to Stay - 1st Dec 15
Bank Regulations Continue To Hinder The U.S. Economic Recovery - 1st Dec 15
Thanksgiving Amid the Terror Threats - 1st Dec 15
Collapsing Global Economic Trade - 1st Dec 15
Gold Demand in China Heading For Record and Reserves - 1st Dec 15
Stock Market Mixed Expectations Ahead Of December, New Economic Data Releases - 30th Nov 15
The First Prophet - The Day God First Spoke to Man - Video - 30th Nov 15
America's Rendezvous With Destiny - The Fourth Turning - 30th Nov 15
Stock Market Consolidation Week - 29th Nov 15
A Black Friday for Gold Prices - 29th Nov 15
Politicians Driving The World Towards War - Fourth Turning - 29th Nov 15
Stock Market Down Monday, Gold Price Bottoming? - 29th Nov 15
Turkey Downs Russian Jet to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire - 28th Nov 15
Stock Market Quiet Week as Primary 5 Continues - 28th Nov 15
Black Friday, Weekend for Europe's Migrants - 28th Nov 15
HUI and Gold - Who's Leading Whom? - 28th Nov 15
Gold And Silver - No Ending Action, But End May Be Near - 28th Nov 15
Social and Cultural Distress Dividing The Nation - Fourth Turning - 28th Nov 15
Sheffield Houses Prices 2015, Best Estate Agents As Rated by Buyers and Sellers - 28th Nov 15
Stock Market Top Valuations, at a Critical Juncture - 27th Nov 15
The Top Shopping Opportunity on Black Friday - 27th Nov 15
Economics Is About Scarcity, Property, and Relationships - 27th Nov 15
UK Immigration Crisis Hits New Extreme of 336k Net Migration, up 32% on 2014 - 27th Nov 15
Vauxhall Zafira B Fire Danger Recall - What to Do Video - 26th Nov 15
Triggers In US Dollar Collapse - 26th Nov 15
Apple Stock is a 10-Year Short - Bear Market Environment - 26th Nov 15
U.S. Federal Reserve Rate Hike - 26th Nov 15
George Osborne's War on Buy to Let Sector Trending Towards Doomsday - 26th Nov 15
Will Turkey Drag NATO into War With Russia in Syria? - 25th Nov 15
George Osborne’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review Full Text - 25th Nov 15
Will Fresh QE From ECB Boost Gold? - 25th Nov 15
Sheffield, Yorkshire and Humberside House Prices Forecast 2016-2018 - 25th Nov 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Reasons to Get Excited About Japanese Stocks

Are Businesses Quietly Preparing for a Financial Apocalypse?

Stock-Markets / Financial Crash Oct 10, 2012 - 03:15 AM GMT

By: Casey_Research


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleDan Steinhart, Casey Research writes: US corporations are sitting on more cash than at any point since World War 2.

That's without including banks. I'm only talking about nonfinancial corporations – the ones that sell goods and services and make the economy go.

Those businesses hold $1.4 trillion. In absolute terms, that's the most ever. In relative terms, it's the most since World War II.

As investors, we can infer quite a bit from corporations' inability (or unwillingness) to deploy their cash.

For one, it indicates that business have assumed a very defensive stance.

Cash, of course, is a buffer against uncertainty - the uncertainty that business slows for any reason. Management wants a healthy cash reserve with which to pay the bills and remain liquid should anything unexpected happen. I think we can all agree that this is prudent, and a good business practice.

But $1.4 trillion? That tells me that businesses are not just a little jittery about the future. They're prepared for an apocalypse.

Think about this, it’s important;

  • If these businesses could conjure up even the most marginal of projects to earn a meager 1% return, they would generate $14 billion profit. Instead, they're sitting on the cash and earning near zero for a guaranteed after-inflation loss.

It's a bad omen that corporate management would forego a collective $14b per year. Clearly, by their judgment, the risk of investing in new projects outweighs the reward – the exact opposite of the conditions needed to produce healthy economic growth.

That's the bad news. But here's the good, if paradoxical, news:

Even with all of this corporate slack, earnings and profit margins are very healthy, and stocks have performed quite well. Case in point, the S&P 500 is up 15% YTD.

Why the disconnect?  

Well, the rising margins and earnings are easy to explain: corporations have cut costs over the past few years, becoming leaner and more efficient. This also partially explains higher stock prices.

But I think there's another contributing factor to rising stock prices: the downright terrible outlook for bonds. Our analysis of stocks vs. bonds indicates that stocks are by far the better investment today.

“The overriding reason is simple: at near zero interest rates, bonds offer almost no upside and catastrophic downside”

Simply by virtue of not being bonds, stocks have done well.

Back to that pile of corporate cash. There's no question that it's a waste today. But today's waste is tomorrow's potential. 

Corporations aren't going to sit on that cash forever. Eventually conditions will be such that they'll either want to or have to invest in new projects.

Perhaps inflation will be the catalyst – corporations can tolerate losing 1.7% per year today. But if the inflation rate heats up to, say, 4%, you can bet that corps will be scrambling to deploy that now idle cash into whatever mediocre projects they can rustle up.

“When that happens, they have $1.4 trillion in cash ready to go. No need to negotiate a loan. No need to issue equity to raise funds. They have all the fuel they need. The gas tank is full.

So while the economy has plenty of problems, and stocks are a far better bet than bonds, lack of cash is not one of them.

Companies are ready to invest and grow. They just need an economic and political environment conducive to doing so.

© 2012 Copyright Casey Research - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2015 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Biggest Debt Bomb in History