Financial Post | U.S. balance now less than Apple cash

While it’s highly unlikely that President Barack Obama is looking to ask the founder and chief executive of Apple Inc. for a loan, it became a fact as of Thursday afternoon — the world’s largest technology company now has more cash on hand than the most powerful democracy on Earth has spending room.

As Republicans and Democrats continue to work towards a compromise to the country’s debt ceiling crisis, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Thursday that Washington now has a total operating balance of only US$73.768-billion.

Meanwhile, Apple currently boasts a cash reserve of US$75.876-billion, as of its most recent quarterly earnings report at the end of June.

Of course, the numbers aren’t directly comparable; the government’s number represents how much financial headroom it has before bumping up against an arbitrary debt ceiling, while Apple’s cash reserve represents the pile of money the Cupterino, California-based company has available on its balance sheet.

Only quibble: it’s way past time to stop calling Apple “the world’s largest technology company”, as that “technology” qualifier has long since become meaningless.

It’s like calling Saturn “the solar system’s biggest planet with rings around it”, which is sort of true, except (a) there’s only one bigger planet anyway so why split hairs over the rings thing, and (b) actually Jupiter has a ring, too. Similarly, the only publicly traded company bigger than Apple is ExxonMobil, and it seems safe to assume that they use at least a little bit of technology, too.

But anyway, yeah. Debt ceiling. Apple big, Treasury small, golly gee.

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