“That Apple should buy Greece with all the useless cash it has on hand is just a joke that won’t go away,” Leonid Bershidsky writes for Bloomberg View. “Yet it’s true that, if big American corporations and European politicians had any imagination, they could probably engineer a bailout for the nearly bankrupt country on terms that would benefit everyone.”
“Back in 2012, an investor attending Apple’s general meeting asked Tim Cook, the chief executive officer, if he’d ever considered using the company’s growing cash stash — $97.6 billion at that point — to acquire Greece. ‘We’ve looked into many things,’ but not that, Cook replied,” Bershidsky writes. “So everyone had a laugh and moved on… Apple, in the meantime, more than doubled its hoard, which now amounts $194 billion in cash and equivalents. The company has been paying generous dividends and buying back stock, but the cash pile keeps growing. There’s no way to invest it all.”
“Apple, Microsoft, Google, Pfizer and Cisco have stockpiled $439 billion,” Bershidsky writes. “Greece needs about 190 billion euros ($212 billion) to bring down its debt to the manageable level of 70 percent of gross domestic product. That’s about 48 percent of the five companies’ combined cash stash… In exchange for less than half of their cash — and just 13 percent more than it would cost to pay U.S. taxes — the companies would receive an indefinite, ironclad guarantee of low taxes on non-U.S. operations. Not a bad deal.”
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MacDailyNews Take: There are lessons to be learned from Greece, lessons that would go unlearned if a white knight or group of white knights swooped in to save the day. And those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.