15 years ago, Apple was on the verge of default. Today, the United States government is. Let’s hope that in 15 years, our government will have been able to turn it around the way Apple has.
As is being reported by just about everyone, following their massive third quarter, Apple now has more cash (and cash equivalents) on hand than the U.S. government has for its entire operating balance. Apple has $75.876 billion. The U.S. government has $73.768 billion. Wow.
Does this mean Apple could buy the U.S. or bail us out? Well, no. The U.S. gross domestic product is still something north of $14 trillion. That’s a bit rich, even for Apple’ blood. That $73 billion and change is actually just the amount of breathing room the U.S. has before they reach the debt ceiling, which Democrats and Republicans are fighting over raising right now.
Still, the fact that Apple has more cash than the U.S. has financial headroom is amazing. There are several companies that Apple could buy right now that the government could not — if the government were in the business of buying businesses, of course. If the U.S. defaults, Apple will also likely have much better credit than the government does.
After hitting $400 a share earlier this week, Apple’s stock has since settled back into the $390-range. This puts their market cap at around $365 billion — again, well behind the U.S. GDP. Apple is the second most valuable public company in the world behind Exxon. Interestingly enough, while Apple’s stock has sunk a bit in recent days, Exxon’s has been tanking. Their market cap is now below $400 billion. Apple is now less than $35 billion away from catching them (something we predicted could happen this fall).
Catching the U.S. GDP will be trickier (not the least of which is that Apple is a part of that GDP). But the way things are going now, who knows? Maybe after a stellar iPad 14 launch, Apple secedes, and they’ll be neck-and-neck — if the U.S. exists at that point. Perhaps Apple COO Tim Cook should be the next Treasury Secretary?