There's a simple way Apple and other companies can help the economy

The former Democratic candidate says the government must not bail out stock holders at the expense of working people.

Posted: Mar 24, 2020 8:31 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2020 8:31 PM

The Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world have taken swift, coordinated action to help stabilize the global economy and financial markets. They've dedicated trillions of dollars worth of stimulus during the coronavirus pandemic.

Politicians in Washington are stepping up to the plate, too. Congress is reportedly close to approving a financial aid package to help struggling consumers and businesses.

Another leg of stimulus could potentially come from Corporate America. Companies can (and should) help the economy by putting their ample cash reserves to work.

Companies have a lot of cash, and many of them are starting to realize that they can put it to work for better use than simply rewarding shareholders with stock buybacks and dividends: They can support their workers and other Americans too.

Big businesses have a lot of cash on hand

Non-financial companies in the United States (i.e. companies excluding banks) have more than $1.5 trillion or so in cash on their balance sheets, according to analysis from Moody's from late last year. That's a lot to work with.

If that is used to help people struggling from the coronavirus outbreak (i.e. employees, rather than investors), then that could go a long way toward keeping the US economy afloat in the midst of the pandemic.

Blue chip American firms such as Facebook, CVS, Walmart, JPMorgan Chase and Kroger are among several that have already announced bonuses for some of their workers.

"It's unprecedented. So Corporate America stimulus makes sense on a case-by-case basis," said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist with Brown Brothers Harriman.

Much of the stimulus could come from the tech industry. After all, Apple, Microsoft, Google owner Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Cisco, and Oracle had nearly half of the cash -- about $638 billion of it -- that Moody's cited in its report.

Companies (like Apple) that still have a lot of cash sitting overseas should easily be able to bring much of that money back to the United States following tax law changes in 2017 that lowered the tax rate for repatriating offshore assets.

Cisco pointed out in an email to CNN Business that it's already planning to donate $225 million in cash to global nonprofits as well as charities in its corporate backyard to help low-income residents of California's Santa Clara County.

And Facebook said it is working closely with vendors to make sure its employees stay safe and healthy.

"Facebook will pay contingent workers that cannot work due to reduced staffing requirements while working from home, when we close an office, when we choose to send an employee home or when they are sick," said Facebook spokesman Anthony Harrison in a statement to CNN Business.

Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Oracle were not immediately available for comment. But several of these companies have already been using their cash to help those in need.

In addition to announcing cash bonuses for workers, Facebook has also set aside $100 million for cash grants to small businesses.

Amazon is hiring 100,000 workers for its fulfillment centers to keep up with online shopping demand. And Apple has also announced various cash donations as well as plans to give away industrial face masks to health care workers in the United States and Europe.

It's a start, but Corporate America probably should -- and hopefully will -- do even more.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46915

Reported Deaths: 2681
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11499683
Lake5053242
Elkhart316443
Allen2717128
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Cass16369
Hamilton1518100
Hendricks1386100
Johnson1254118
Porter71237
Tippecanoe6778
Madison64864
Clark63844
Bartholomew58244
Howard56057
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Jackson4653
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Delaware42949
Marshall4273
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Floyd37144
Morgan32531
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Grant29026
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Monroe26628
Dubois2646
White26010
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Harrison21022
Warrick21029
Greene18432
Miami1812
Jennings17111
Putnam1688
Scott1607
DeKalb1594
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Perry1279
Steuben1262
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Randolph784
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Sullivan441
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Spencer351
Fountain302
Tipton301
Crawford290
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike90
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55257

Reported Deaths: 2903
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin9825417
Cuyahoga7392372
Hamilton5605197
Marion273038
Lucas2669302
Pickaway218441
Summit2079206
Montgomery191826
Mahoning1805231
Butler151144
Columbiana128860
Stark1079112
Lorain98367
Trumbull91665
Warren81421
Clark7619
Belmont54322
Delaware54115
Fairfield52916
Tuscarawas52910
Medina50632
Lake48018
Miami45531
Licking44212
Portage42858
Ashtabula42544
Wood40451
Geauga39942
Clermont3906
Wayne35951
Richland3255
Allen30540
Mercer2788
Darke24525
Greene2449
Erie23422
Holmes2203
Huron1992
Madison1928
Ottawa13923
Crawford1345
Washington13020
Putnam12615
Sandusky12614
Hardin12012
Morrow1161
Ross1133
Auglaize1044
Coshocton902
Monroe8817
Jefferson832
Union801
Hancock781
Hocking788
Muskingum761
Preble701
Williams682
Guernsey673
Lawrence670
Clinton660
Shelby644
Fulton610
Ashland581
Carroll583
Logan581
Wyandot585
Brown541
Defiance493
Fayette460
Knox451
Highland441
Athens431
Champaign391
Scioto380
Seneca332
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Van Wert320
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Noble110
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