Cash Piles Up as U.S. CEOs Play Safe With Slow-Growth Economy

Any lament that U.S. executives are sitting on cash at their companies instead of investing in plants and equipment may be about to get louder.
The buildup of cash and marketable securities accelerated in the first quarter on a year-over-year basis to a record $1.73 trillion after slowing in early 2012. At the same time, capital spending in the most recent quarter rose by the least since March 2010, when the U.S. was still emerging from a financial crisis.
The trends, based on data from about 2,300 U.S. companies compiled by Bloomberg, suggest executives’ lack of need or confidence to invest deepened with threats of federal spending cuts and the economic slowdowns at home, in Europe and China. Without a pickup in spending, the U.S. economy loses a driver of job creation and risks staying locked in below-average growth, giving even more cause to hold tight.

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