Der sagenhafte Reichtum der US-Konzerne

Es ist bekannt, dass a) US-Unternehmen so hoch verschuldet sind wie noch nie und b) große US-Unternehmen Milliarden an Dollar auf den Büchern haben, zu einem nicht unwesentlichen Teil außerhalb der USA, um Steuerzahlungen zu vermeiden.

Doch was machen sie mit dem Geld? Sie leihen es dem Staat, wie die FT berichtet. Interessant dabei ist übrigens, dass sie damit auch zu den von vielen Ökonomen so bemängelten „Ersparnisüberschüssen“ und damit den tiefen Zinsen beitragen. Die Fakten, zunächst am Beispiel Microsoft, dann gesamthaft betrachtet:

  • At first glance, Microsoft seems exceptionally cautious with its balance sheet. About 84 per cent of its $133bn in cash is invested in US government and agency securities, the greatest share of its peer group. (…) (in addition), the company’s portfolio of short-term secured lending has grown notably over the past year, according to SEC filings. In this type of lending, an entity with large amounts of cash or securities, such as bonds or stocks, on their balance sheets lend them out in an effort to generate income. In return, they accept safe assets like cash or government securities as collateral.” – bto: Microsoft gibt also Kredit. Die Frage ist allerdings, ob das so sicher ist, wie es scheint. Denn wenn es gegen gute Sicherheit und ohne Risiko ist, kann es sich doch eigentlich nicht mehr lohnen.
  • The expansion in Microsoft’s short-term secured lending underscores its unusual role in the Treasury market. It also points to how the need of American companies to manage their large cash piles accumulated overseas and which they are reluctant to repatriate for tax reasons is blurring the distinction between activities on Wall Street and in non-financial companies.”bto: Eigentlich ist es die konsequente Fortsetzung einer Politik, in der es immer mehr um finanzielle Aspekte und immer weniger um die Realwirtschaft geht.
  • “(…) it also shows how post-crisis regulations limiting bank leverage have brought in alternative sources of cash to short-term lending markets to provide liquidity.” (…) “They have a lot of cash, and if people aren’t making money off their cash, they will move it around a bit.” bto: Es ist aber eigentlich nicht das Geschäft, das diese Unternehmen betreiben sollten.
  • The sheer size of its stockpile of Treasuries is what truly sets Microsoft apart. In the past five years, its holdings have more than doubled in size to $112bn, more than any other non-bank company in the country. (…) Only 12 nations own more Treasuries.” bto: Na, das ist doch mal was.

Microsoft ist nicht alleine, praktisch alle US-Konzerne mischen mit und kaufen dabei zunehmend auch Unternehmensanleihen.

  • “Together, 30 US companies have amassed a portfolio of cash, securities and investments worth more than $1.2tn, (…) As cash piles have grown, these companies have ventured into riskier corners of financial markets, investing in corporate and securitised debt. Some have established their own trading desks and now run multibillion-dollar lending operations, businesses typically left to financiers on Wall Street.” bto: und das aus gutem Grund. Könnte ja sein, dass es eben nicht Sinn und Zweck dieser Unternehmen ist, entsprechende Geldberge anzuhäufen.
  • “(…) if US corporate cash was a country it would rank in the top 10 by gross domestic product (…) it is “concentrated” in just 30 companies. (…) Their holdings of hundreds of billions of dollars of cash and other investments overseas represent a mouthwatering prize for President Donald Trump if he can recover the money.” bto: mit der entsprechenden Wirkung auf den Dollarkurs wie hier schon diskutiert.
  • “These companies (…) own roughly $423bn of corporate debt and commercial paper securities, $369bn of government and agency debt and disclose holdings of more than $40bn of asset and mortgage-backed securities.bto: was die Unternehmen zu einem bedeutenden Spieler im Markt macht.

Quelle: FT

  • “In 2015 cash and other financial assets held by non-financial companies topped $2tn for the first time, according to the Federal Reserve. Given the rally in debt markets in recent years, companies are likely to be sitting on long-term gains, but the dive into debt has also opened them up to new risks. (…) The sensitivity of these bonds to changes in interest rates is the single biggest risk‘ for companies investing excess cash (…).”bto: 2.000 Milliarden US-Dollar. Wow.
  • “If you know you’re not going to use the money, there is a high cost of keeping that liquidity (…). As a result companies park significantly less of their excess cash in money market funds and time deposits. (…) after some companies found success buying corporate debt, others followed suit. They tend to exhibit herd behaviour (…). If interest rates rise, corporate borrowing costs will climb in tandem. At the same time, they could see losses on the bonds they own.” bto: Herdenverhalten dürfte auch in diesem Fall nicht gut ausgehen.
  • “The US taxes the global income of US corporations, but allows them to defer paying tax indefinitely on foreign profits that are reinvested abroad. (…) Yet those conditions may not persist, if the tax reform promised by Mr Trump during his election campaign succeeds. (…) Yet even if new laws do not force repatriation, investor response to policy changes could still bring huge change to the bond market and how companies manage their cash, removing one of the key accelerants of US credit markets.” bto: Und es ist nicht so unwahrscheinlich, dass Trump dies durchbekommt. Die Republikaner brauchen einen Erfolg.
  • Apple, Microsoft and others have borrowed to fund activities that are easily financed with cash, like distributions to shareholders and share repurchases. (…) Their overall level of bond issuance could decline or the repatriation process itself could involve selling bonds. If investors demand companies return cash the moment it is more cheaply accessible, that could also force some groups to liquidate portfolios quickly, pressuring the bond market.” bto: Liegt hier der Keim der nächsten Finanzkrise?

FT (Anmeldung erforderlich): “Microsoft shows how corporate cash piles blur lines with Wall St”, 15. September 2017

FT (Anmeldung erforderlich): “How Apple and co became some of America’s largest debt collectors”, 15. September 2017