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It seems insane, but Apple has more money today than the U.S. government. There’s even crazy talk about how Steve Jobs might have to bail out Uncle Sam, the way that J.P. Morgan did in the mid-1890s.
Even as the Republicans and Democrats try a last-ditch effort to agree to raise the debt ceiling, the U.S. Treasury’s cash balance fell to $74 billion this week, less than the $76 billion that Apple has on its balance sheet, as VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar reported recently.
There’s little chance Apple will share that hard-earned money from selling so many iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, and Macs over many years. But stranger things have happened during financial panics over the years.
In 1893, U.S. President Grover Cleveland got a pledge of $60 million in gold from New York financier J.P. Morgan. That gave the markets enough confidence to ward off a financial collapse. Indeed, if a financial collapse looked imminent, it might even be in Apple’s own interest to lend the government some money just to keep it afloat. That could help save Apple’s stock market value from tanking, as it would — along with those of many other U.S. companies — if the debt agreement collapses.
Apple’s overall market value is currently $362 billion, behind only Exxon Mobil’s $395 billion value. If President Obama can’t reach a deal with John Boehner, he might well want to make a call to Jobs. And if that comes to pass, let’s hope that Jobs isn’t so busy working on the iPhone 5 that he can’t be disturbed when the call comes in.