Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 1st May 2017 10:56 UTC
Apple

Apple Inc. is expected to report Tuesday that its stockpile of cash has topped a quarter of a trillion dollars [actual source is the WSJ, but it's paywalled there], an unrivaled corporate hoard that is greater than the market value of both Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. and exceeds the combined foreign-currency reserves held by the U.K. and Canada combined.

The goal of a capitalist, free market-based society is that as companies get more successful, they invest their winnings back into the company, increasing productivity, hiring more people, and thus improving the overall state of the economy. While inherently flawed, this system has brought us a lot of good, and has lifted quite a number of people out of abject poverty.

However, one has to ask what individuals and corporations hoarding this much money as Apple is doing are contributing to society. Apple's 250 billion dollars are locked away, and aren't used for anything. Every day, Apple is extracting vast sums of wealth from society - as they should in a capitalist society - but they are no longer investing it back into society. And Apple isn't alone in this, of course - a rich few are extracting immense amounts of wealth from society without giving back.

This breaks the traditional capitalist model.

Things like increased automation and robotisation are only going to accelerate this process. At some point, we're going to have to stop and ask ourselves if this is tenable, and if not, what we are going to do about it. It goes against the core 'values' of die-hard capitalists, but we might reach a point where we have to forcibly - through law - take it from companies like Apple.

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Learn From History. This is not unique.
by bryanv on Mon 1st May 2017 19:14 UTC
bryanv
Member since:
2005-08-26

In the robber-barron days of early capitalism, it was not uncommon for _individuals_ who had amassed a massive war-chest to use that stockpile to provide liquidity to others in a huge contraction. Some economists believe JP Morgan singlehandedly saved markets from utter collapse and essentially functioned as a lender of last resort akin to a central bank in volatile markets.

My point being, that large war chests are not counter to capitalist intention, and are not unethical or immoral. Money, afterall, is amoral.

Also recall, that in this day and age, money is a physical representation of someone else's debt. If anything we should _thank_ apple for taking inflated dollars out of consumer circulation, effectively reducing the amount of liquidity in the market and thereby reducing overall inflation.

Were there to be an economic crash, they're in a position to invest whatever value their positions (devalued cash or other assets) into propping up sectors of the economy that have been troubled over the last few years. I wouldn't call that irresponsible or unethical.

If anything, it's highly responsible. This is a company that's been banking their boom, saving for a rainy day.

All indicators predict that at least for Apple, bloom may be off the boom, and the rainy days may be right around the corner. They're in much better shape this time, than they were in the 1990's, and they know from that experience that booms don't last forever.

So hold off on the socialist propaganda Thom. They're not screwing their investors, and they're not donking the economy. If anything, they're acting as a buffer right now. Where they to dump all $250b into the economy at once, _that_ would be unethical.

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