U.S. private equity firms have raised a record $177.89 billion, according to Dow Jones VentureOne.

Private equity firms have an unprecedented amount of cash sitting in their treasure chests. Since they are typically mandated to invest it within a certain time frame, this signals that an unprecedented of money is now sloshing around looking or a home within the next year or two.

This has all kinds of complex implications, but one obvious result is that money is easier and cheaper to raise, whether for the young entrepreneur or for the developed business unit looking for help to restructure.

The previous record was 2000, which was $177.75 billion, but we’ve still got two months before the year is over — so 2006’s lead will be significant by the time were done. The total could reach $225 billion, according to VentureOne.

“Private equity,” as defined by VentureOne, includes buyout and corporate finance funds, venture capital, mezzanine funds and funds of funds.

Much of this money is being raised by firms that invest in mature or very large businesses, but venture firms are raising more money than they have in several years too.

The buyout industry has led the boom, representing $118.05 billion of the total raised so far this year, or about two-thirds of all funds, the group said. In 2000, venture capital firms were a more significant driver of that record-breaking year.