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There are stories like this floating in the internet.

Apple is now more liquid than the United States government, the Financial Post reports.

As the government struggles to resolve the debt ceiling debate, the operating balance in Washington is at US$73.768 billion and falling.

Meanwhile, Apple has US$75.876 billion – and that number isn’t going anywhere but up as the company continues to break records and make its competitors look bad.

Does Apple really have more money than the U.S. government?

Is the story misleading?

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FYI Microsoft has USD 86 billions in liquid assets. –  user4314 Aug 1 '11 at 15:18
@Kerli include a recent reference for this statement. –  Andrew Finnell Aug 3 '11 at 16:47

1 Answer 1

up vote 18 down vote accepted

This is just a case of total misunderstanding of terms.

Original claim was that Apple has more cash, than operating balance of US federal government. Operating balance means revenues minus liabilities.

Of course, the numbers aren’t directly comparable; the government’s number represents how much financial headroom it has before bumping up against an arbitrary debt ceiling, while Apple’s cash reserve represents the pile of money the Cupertino

Operating balance is something completely different than reserves. As for reserves, current assets of Federal Reserve are worth $2,907,837 million, which is almost 40 times more than Apple's reserves.

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So yes since Apple has actual reserves and the government just has room to get deeper in debt, Apple has more money the the US Govenment. –  Chad Jul 29 '11 at 19:24
So they aren't comparing apples with apples? –  Andrew Grimm Jul 30 '11 at 2:31
@DVK: $14bn - see google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:AAPL&fstype=ii –  vartec Jul 31 '11 at 7:55
So, to be clear, the US has 2,907,837,000,000 in cash/reserves, and Apple has a paltry 75,876,000,000 in cash/reserves. Correct? –  Chris Vesper Aug 1 '11 at 12:44
The assets of the Federal Reserve are something different entirely. Spending that money would be like not buying health insurance so that you can afford your lattes. Oh wait, Americans already do that. –  Russell Steen Aug 1 '11 at 20:06

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