Kai Ryssdal: While the federal budget may be on the skids, over in corporate America, things are still fattening right up. Big American companies are sitting on billions of dollars in profits. We’ve known that for a while now. Lately, though, they’ve been adding even more to their accumulated wealth.
In the first three months of this year, companies that went public raised $12 billion between ’em, and established companies are setting records for bond issues — that is, the sale of new debt. Lovely for them, and perhaps eventually their shareholders.
For everybody else, though? Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore went in search of the answer.
Heidi Moore: It’s a paradox we’ve all wondered about: if companies have so much money — and they do — why do we still have 13.5 million unemployed people in America?
The answer from corporate America is that they’ll get around to it. But first, they’re raising money in a new gold rush. They want to build new factories and buy other businesses, says Kelli Whitlock. She’s a partner with law firm Duane Morris.
Kelli Whitlock: You’ve heard over the last couple of months that ‘cash is king,’ and that’s true, but when everybody has cash, then it becomes less interesting just to have it. Then you have to use it for something to actually move your company forward.
In March, U.S. companies raised more money through stock offerings than any month since March 2000. And it’s not just tech companies these days. Bond offerings are also occurring at a record pace thanks to low interest rates.
Robert Claassen is a partner with law firm Paul Hastings. He calls this a corporate recovery.
Robert Claassen: I tell you, these companies see enormous opportunities. They would love to hire people. Ultimately I think all of this will certainly benefit employees.
But Claassen says companies will only hire selectively for now. Partially, that’s because executives are still stuck with a poverty mindset from the recession; they’re worried the new money might disappear.
Neil Dhar is a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers. He says the stock markets wait for no one.
Neil Dhar: Right now we have a pretty robust market. Not sure how long that window will stay open.
The only question is whether how long Americans will have to wait for these companies to start hiring.
In New York, I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.