However, U.S. companies are not alone in holding sizable amounts of cash, since the trend is also clear among European companies, according to Anthony Carfang, a partner and director at consultancy Treasury Strategies.
“It’s not as if a couple of corporate treasurers have said, ‘Hey, let’s hoard cash,” Carfang said during a briefing earlier this month. “Higher cash levels seem to be the way that companies are managing risk and uncertainty,” he said.
In the U.S., corporate cash has held relatively steady as a percentage of GDP, rising from 10% in 2000 to 11% in 2012, Carfang said. In Eurozone countries, the cash holdings of represent a higher portion of GDP, ranging from 14% to 20%, and he said that probably reflects the difficulty that European companies have in pulling their cash into a single pool.